Sunday, December 31, 2006

Mysterious Ways...

There is a theory that time was invented to stop everything happening at once. In November there was a four week period where I felt that time had let me down and everything indeed was happening at once.

Let me list some of these events.

I guess we start on 16th of November when cancer finally took my mother.

18 November I went to see Mr Paul 'Bono' Hewson, a noted activist, champion of the poverty-stricken and the justice-deprived, friend of presidents and popes, Pavrottis and punks, and some-time lead singer of a little band called U2. One of the finest bands of this genre in the world. These are some of the photos I took with my mobile phone... we had a great spot, perhaps only 5 metres from Mr Bono and Mr The Edge when they played on the little sattelite stages. A fantastic concert.

21 November was the last class in Foundations, a short course I had been going to on every Tuesday night for a few months. It's run by Fusion and is a very worthwhile look at how to live with yourself, with others and with God.

23 November was mum's funeral.
The next two weeks were reasonably quiet until...

7 December. Fusion contact me and tell me that I have been accepted into their 6 month Intensive Certificate course in Youth and Community work. It means moving to Tasmania and getting into penniless student mode.

8 December. Dad put's on his Santa suit and goes to Boronia Mall, where he falls ill. He is rushed to the hospital, but only kept alive long enough for my brother and I to see him...

9 December, Mike Pilley who captain's my cricket team and plays trombone in the Melbourne Staff Band gives me tickets to their Christmas concert. MSB is one of the finest bands of ther genre in the world. Also sharing the stage was the a Cappella group The Idea of North, one of the finest groups of their genre in the world. A fantastic concert.

11 December, Volleyball Grand Final. We won the first two sets reasonably comfortably, but then got a little anxious and showed signs of choking when Kaylor's team won the next two... We got our act together in set five and finished the season in style! I've played volleyball in this competition every season since 1987, except for a season of basketball in '98, but that is my last game of v-ball for the forseeable future.

12 December, Dad's Rotary club's Christmas party. A month ago we were all looking forwards to going to this annual event, Penny, Allan, their three kids, me, mum, dad... six of us went and saw a bunch of very sympathetic Rotarians, and despite not buying ANY raffle tickets, we won four prizes! hmmm...

13 December, I hand in my notice at work. I've only been there since 1987, so it's no big deal really...

15 December, Dad's funeral. Mum and Dad re-united on their 44th wedding anniversary.

Since then it's been me procrastinating about packing, and getting serious about de-cluttering myself, finding homes for stuff. Anyone wanna buy some cheap stuff? Lot's of books and old Cassettes? Unbuilt model kits? Vinyl records from the eighties? (mostly played once to record to cassette, so 'as new') old clothes? call me...
I move to Poatina on Jan 18, so I really should get stuck in.

Bono sang the song Mysterious Ways that day at the Docklands Stadium. The words of the bridge mean something.

One day you'll look back
And you'll see
You were held how
By this love
You could stand
And not move on this moment
Follow this feeling...

It's Alright..
We move through miracle days
Spirit moves in Mysterious Ways.

Penny doesn't know how we've made it through this period except to say that we've been held. God has given us his peace. Mum and Dad's birthday and Christmas all occurred between dec24 and dec27. Miraculously those days all passed with more joy than sadness.

And now a new year begins. A new adventure awaits. New doors open. May I have the courage to step through them and the Faith to know that God is right here with me all the way.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


This week's topic in Illustration Friday is Masks. I asked my 6yo neice to help me with this one. She loves drawing, and has discovered painting on the computer too, I supervised and suggested, but she did the colouring herself.

People wear masks all the time, to hide how they feel, who they really are. It seems safer, but is it? to deny your true self?

Monday, December 11, 2006


The last few days have been surreal. Smoke from fires in the north of the state have blanketted the city in a dirty fog, the sun an alien red orb bathing us in eerie light, not bright, but intensely hot.

And my father. Since my mother died, a large part of him left too. On friday morning he went out in his Santa suit, to do that thing that he loved, but early in the afternoon, dad was re-united with mum, both now safe in the arms of Jesus.

Monday, November 27, 2006

From Fiona

Hi John, I led the service at Ashburton this morning and as we follow the Christian calandar, it was "Christ the King" Sunday, a day when we traditionally celebrate Jesus as both king and servant. I wrote one of my prayers using images that came to me on the day when we honoured the life of your Mum.
This was my prayer...

Let us pray ..

To Jesus whom we worship as King,
but who constantly comes
to us as Servant.
Jesus with sleeves rolled up ... and hands in the sink.
Jesus in gumboots ... sweeping out sheds and milking cows.
Jesus, the sign of hope in every drought...
move among us ... stand among us....
teach us to love ... teach us to serve.

You are God in human flesh,
God with human hands.
Open our hearts;
Fill our lives with your compassion.
As we bring our lives as a daily offering...
to Jesus Christ,...
our Servant King.

(Let us stand to sing, "The Servant King".)

Thursday, November 23, 2006


Major Lorna Cooper. Bill Cooper's missus. The lady at the shop. the tea-lady's daughter, radioactive Nan, My mum...

What can I tell you about my mum that you might not know? She was the first of four children born into a dairy farming family in the western districts of Victoria, and grew up in Warrnambool, a practical, down-to-earth country girl. Through Salvation Army Youth Councils she met a certain young Ballarat lad called Bill, and a friendship was struck up. Actually the story goes that there were two Bills but the other Bill realised that it wasn't to be, because he destined to go to Officer Training College and she wasn't. Ironically, that Bill never made it to college, but mum did, a year or two after dad, the Ballarat Bill, had been there.

Mum and Dad applied through the correct channels to be engaged, and after getting the okay from the Army, Mum was promptly transferred to Tasmania. Despite it's faults, mum loved the Salvation Army and the opportunities it gave her to serve.

Eventually they got married, and not too long later I came along. At that time we were living at the Mt Barker Boys Home in South Australia, it was a dairy farm, but the lady officers were not supposed to be involved with the cows at all. I don't clearly remember, but I'm sure mum wasn't too impressed by that. She still had plenty to do though. On the day we came home from hospital she ironed the shirts for 50 boys while I was watched over in the bassinette by a golden haired retriever. She was not the sort to sit idly while there was work to be done, mum had a strong sense of duty.

During a short break from Army service, Allan was born in Warrnambool, and then we were back into it. The life of an officer of that era involved a good deal of travelling and a variety of appointments; boys and children's homes, corps in the inner city of Adelaide and in country South Australia. Then there was 5 years in Melbourne and seven in Perth. In Perth, Mum set up about a dozen new thrift stores for the Army, showing the staff by example how to run a store, and when they knew what to do, she opened up another.

Finally mum and dad were transferred to The Basin Farm where they retired early due to dad's health problems. Not that they ever really retired, there was always things that they could and did do.

As boys we didn't really enjoy mum's occassional sermons. Yes, they were much shorter than when dad preached, but she always told anecdotes about 'her boys...' Anyway, mum's strengths were always more on the practical side of officership, working alongside people and showing by her example. No-one better exemplified how to be a servant and yet still be a leader. She could take charge, yet still the country girl was there with the common touch, showing the men at the farm how to milk cows, how to herd them at 5 in the morning. She was not scared of dirt on her hands, or mud on her boots, and she quickly earned their respect.

She was very particular about being punctual, unlike the rest of the family. To get us on time for things she had every clock in the house set ten minutes fast. Of course, we knew the clocks were wrong and we were still late! She was also the organiser. If my brother and I were going on a youth camp, she would always make sure we packed more than we could possibly need, but we never forgot anything!

Mum never really learnt to cook, fortunately dad did, or we would've starved! I think her best recipe was probably packet Macaroni Cheese and Fish fingers... She had a sweet tooth though she tried to deny it.

Mum spent a lot of the last twenty years caring for dad with one ailment or another, dad has had fragile health, and so Easter Sunday 2000 was a big shock for us, mum in hospital and close to death. But she was a fighter, and wanted to see her first grand child. When she was finally realeased from hospital in the June, we took her to visit one day old Bella on her way home. She was a proud and doting nanna who got to see not just one but three grand kids. The first time that she allowed Bella to eat her sweets before she finished her main course Allan and I were in shocked horror! She never let US get away with that!

As soon as she was able, she was back at work at the corps shop, she loved being busy. However in the last few months the cancer finally got the better of her. She tried to hide it, and carry on, I don't any of us really knew how sick she was until near the end. And yet she didn't want us to worry, we won't ever know how much pain she was in, she tried not to show it, probably the greater pain was not being able to work as she had. Even in hospital she tried to be helpful and assist the nursing staff with watching over the other patients in her ward.

Mum's favorite bible passage (Php 1:19-26) deals with Paul's dilemma, on one hand wanting to be with Jesus in Heaven, on the other hand, knowing that there is still much work to be done serving Jesus on this Earth. Mum was born to serve, and now has recieved her 'well done, Good and Faithful Servant' . No more tears, no more pain. She knew where she was going and died at peace and with a smile on her face.

There'll be an empty seat at the hall on Sunday and some one else will have to take up the offering. But in heaven there is one who is probably right now trying to teach the angels to play the timbrel.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

forwards to the battle

Found this image in the 1935 Christmas Warcry (Australian Edition), and played with it a bit on my poor old 'puter, adding a touch of colour, etc.
Echos of Communist Proaganda posters in it's composition, but I like that about it.
What do you think, Fiery Prophet, whoever you are!

Friday, October 27, 2006

there's a red moon on the rise...

This happy looking gent is Count Zinzendorf. Just recently I have discovered that this long-dead German aristocrat has been stalking me for a few years... Well, maybe not, but I am becoming aware of his influence. Back in July 1999 I visited the Czech Republic, mostly in the Moravian area. We came across a statue in tribute to the Moravian Church which despite depicting a man holding a Bible overhead, survived many years of a Communist political system. Read a very ill-informed blog and see a photo here.
When i wrote this entry earlier this year, I had no idea that i would actually be spending a day and a night in Zinzendorf's village, a place called Herrnhut, the site of the hundred and twenty odd years of non-stop prayer I alluded to, and the inspiration of the 24-7 prayer movement I also alluded to (without any real knowledge about either) .
Herrnhut is a very nice little village in the sth east corner of Germany within sight of the Czech Republic and Poland. Young Count Zinzendorf allowed Moravians who were being persecuted in their own country to settle here in the 1720's, and the village they built has a significant place in Church history, history that is still being written.
And then a few weeks ago my friend Daniela in Berlin suggested I read a book called Red Moon Rising by Peter Greig. I popped into Word Bookstore on my way to ACC at Box Hill Salvos (see my blog of Sept 29 - easy to find, it's only two blogs back...), but I didn't spot it on the shelves there. Probably they had it but I didn't bother asking.
The next day at ACC, Major Brendan Nottle from Melbourne 614 got up to do his annual rant on the state of the Army (not to be missed!) and in the middle of it read out something called the Vision which challenged us all. Actually had lunch with Brendan just after that, he introduced me to John Cleary (ABC Radio Religion journo and Salvo historian who also joined us) as his star Face Painter, I had my first go at Face Painting at the Rugby World Cup in Brendan's team, and it was in some ways through that I went to Germany to the football World Cup to paint faces and found myself for a day in Herrnhut. (incidentally football first came to Germany with English students who wanted to study under the Moravians IN Herrnhut! Herrnhut, the birthplace of German Football!!! True!! And I was there during the German World Cup!!! How cool is that!! Didn't get to any games, but saw the birthplace which few people knew about - even the Moravians themselves till the Football Assoc pointed it out.)
Anyway, I digress. Somehow, during the next week I discover that the Vision was also written by Pete Greig, and now I had to get his book! I picked it up the following Saturday at Koorong Books on my way to play cricket (first game of the season and we won! yay us!). That night, co-incidentally a red moon DID rise, it was the full Harvest moon, and it seemed to reinforce that I really had to read the book.
So what is Red Moon Rising all about? It's the story of the beginning of the 24-7 Prayer movement (previously alluded to), and how did it start? Where did the idea come from? Pete Greig was touring around Europe, and en-route to the Czech Republic from Germany found himself in Herrnhut, and discovering Zinzendorf. Greig tried 24-7 prayer out in his church in England and the results were impressive. Others tried it too and now the 24-7 prayer thing is all over the World, and the Salvation Army is quite a big part of it. Greig helped launch a German branch of 24-7 prayer by taking a bunch of young Dresden Goth Christians to Herrnhut and I would've loved to have been there for that!
After reading the book (it took only three days) I loaned it to Danny, my officer (minister/pastor guy to non-Salvos) as I know that Prayer is his thing. He has only read the first 40 pages but has already put it into his top ten Christian books, and this morning preached a bit on the Order of the Mustard Seed, in 1715, aged just 15, Zinzendorf and 4 friends first formed the group which became the Order of the Mustard Seed. And there is another thing that Zinzendorf started so long ago and is now experiencing a re-birth. The basis of the OMS? True to Christ, Kind to People, Gospel to the Nations.

So, what has all this got to do with me? Dunno, maybe God is saying I should pray more...
Or should I stop looking for these silly little co-incidences that pop up? What do you think?

Monday, October 23, 2006


We just missed the chance for a blog-party. My last blog was number 100, but i didn't realise until today... oops! Bit late to celebrate that now! oh well... Only 899 posts 'til blog 1000! Then we'll have a party. Of course i'll be about 197 years old then....

Friday, September 29, 2006

When I'm calling you...oo oo ooo, oo oo ooooh

Last Saturday I went to ACC (Agressive Christianity Councils) (here's a report). Our new leader in this half of Australia, Commissioner James Knaggs, spoke of our need to go Deeper and Wider, ie, Deeper into God's love, and then, spread His love wider... As an example of wider, he discussed various places in the World where the Army needs people to go. The first place he spoke about was Germany.
Why is it always Germany? The place haunts me...
Anyway, here is a doodle I did at ACC. Might make a nice tattoo! Anyway, it's based on the old Salvo motto of Blood and Fire. I might do a colour version soon. I did a version based on the Red Shield as an idea for a T-shirt motif a while ago, but there were issues with using the red Shield.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

illustration Friday - Phobia

Phobias... Irrational fears, that's this week's Illustration friday topic. In this picture we see a character with a dilemma. She has to face her phobias. She has to decide which is a phobia and which is a reasonable fear. She has to face heights, fire, trust that the firemen will catch her, and the elephantine fear of mice... what to do, what to do? Place yourself in her oversizes fluffy slippers and tell me what happens next!

The house is in Friedenau in sth west Berlin, and has been treated to look less photographic and retouched to remove excess cars and trees and add fire in Photoshop . The drawings were scanned into Flash, vectored and tidied up there before being added to the Photoshop file...

No houses or mice were harmed in the production of this illo!

hmm... mouse, house, why not mice and hice?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

I still live!

Yup, it's been a while since I posted. No real excuses. Not really...
Anyway, I still move and live and have my being. I'm busy making other plans as life continues to happen to me, blood still courses my veins, and the odd thought still occassionally flickers across the vast alleged emptiness between my ears.
However, those times when I am high on inspiration I am low on computer time, and strangely enough, times when I do sit at my computer (like now) nothing of lasting literary, philosophical or artistic merit appears.
And you can't force that out. Neither can you just wait until you get inspired...
So, may I suggest you look at Lynette's blog from Newfoundland, she's always good value, and look also at the blogs by Jenn and Tez, two of my favourite Pennsylvanians. Links on the right. (that might confuse any German reader, but everyone else should work it out!)

Be sure to pop back here on the off-chance I have posted something new. Any gems will be treasured mainly for their rarity value.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Doing things backwards

I have just been reading this book, see? About this guy who discovered some things that the church had kept hidden for years. And the deeper he dug, the more he found out. And the angrier and more dangerous the church became... I thought I'd read the book, because I'd seen the movie, and in fact, toured some of the locations when I was in Europe. Yeah, backwards. Always do things the hard way, I think that's my motto. Get a paper round, then decided that learning to ride a bike would be a good idea... stuff like that.
Anyway, this guy discovered all these ancient secrets that the church was not to keen to see revealed. Secrets about core belief systems, about faith and grace, stuff about who Jesus really is. Stuff that would turn the church on it's head, and take so much political and spiritual power out of the Pope's hands. And unlike Dan Brown's potboiler, it's all true.
This guy, whose name was Martin Luther, discovered, as he studied the ancient scriptures in Hebrew and Greek, that you didn't need a priest to intercede between you and God; that paying no amount of money to the church or 'good works' would get you into heaven, only by faith; and the traditions of the Roman Catholic church were mostly of man, not of God. Contraversial stuff.
'Only Scripture' was his cry, 'if I am wrong', he said 'show me where in God's word'. Luther's Reformation of the church completely changed northern Europe and Western Civilisation. His translation of the Bible into modern (16th Century) German placed God's word into the hands of the people for the first time in hundreds of years (and actually formalised the German language), so that people could see for themselves what God was saying.
An incredible story of how, after a long period in the Dark Ages, where the light was held by very few, God's truth burst into the world again, and it came through one poor monk who stood up against the might of kings, the Holy Roman Empire and the Church itself.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

now and then...

About two weeks ago I was looking through a few old things and found my photo album from my trip to Amerika, in fact, I found the one that featured Jenn and Andy's wedding. Jenn was one of the team I went to Jamaica with back in '98. Wow, that's 8 years ago! I stayed with Jenn's family for about a month, a period that included the wedding. I thought that the Spangler family were pretty wonderful for taking in a stray, homeless Aussie, especially during the height of wedding preparations! And how great was the wedding? I don't think i've ever taken so many photos in one day, with so many different cameras!

Jenn's brother Scott and his girlfriend Tez (my name for her, it's an aussie type nick), said I should come back and take photos at THEIR wedding too!

Unfortunately they forgot to send me an airline ticket...

Anyway, I was having a spot of nostalgia and was wondering how things were going over in sunny Pennsylvania. As so often happens you make some great friends that you know you will last, but you lose contact. It's sad, but when there is a planet between you, it can be hard, even in this global village we live in. I said a silent prayer for them, and hoped all was well.

Only a couple of days later I got an email. From Jenn! Wow! The timing was uncanny! I replied, and included the address of Honzablog. Next thing you know Jenn has a blog of her own so I can catch up with her news! Two days ago was her wedding Anniversary! Congrats you two! As I said, I was just thinking of you. They have three kids, hopefully all as cute as their mum.

And then a couple of days later, so does Tez! And she links back here! Scott and Tez have two kids (they got married without me...), and I really hope that they are as cute as their mum too!
So, to all the friends of Tez, or Jenn, or anyone who remembers me or Murray from our days in PA, a very big welcome to honzablog!

As soon as I can work out time differences, there are people in Amerika who can expect phone calls very soon! Much to talk about!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Illustration friday... SACRIFICE

Eeek! It has been so long since I have contributed anything to Illustration Friday! This week's topic is Sacrifice! Wow, such a deep topic, and one, as someone who tries to adhere to Christianity, I should really attempt to portray. You know, trying to share a bit of subtle light in the on-line illustrating community. But how do you portray sacrifice in an illustration without being preachy or obvious? You want to make people think and not just get a meaning at a glance, then move on to the next website.
And also, and more to the point? How can I produce a net-worthy illo when my computer is playing up as it is? I mean, really I could go out and buy a new computer tommorrow. I would LOOOOOOVE a new computer!!!! If I could buy one largish item this month, thats what it would be. However, I am in a place where I really need to squirrel away as much money as i can this year, because I am hoping things will be very different for me in January. A new adventure beckons. I must harken to the call. But to do this I must look at my priorities, and that means... sacrifice. No new computer. Hoping my old car will last another 6 months.
Huh. Sacrifice. Maybe I can't draw sacrifice, but perhaps I can illustrate it with my life... Sacrifice isn't cool, isn't part of a post-modern lifestyle, but it does build character, and in the long run it's the better path to take.

Oh, and I know I've talked on Germany a bit lately, but I found this blog on a Salvo kick-off site that mentions meeting up with the Fusion guys in Leipzig. If you want to improve your bilinguality, or have an interest in Australian Salvos meeting Fusion Aussies in Leipzig, then check out:
If you don't want to you don't have to, but it's not a big sacrifice...

Sunday, July 09, 2006

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. tell you what it means zu mich

I was strolling through my local shopping mall yesterday when a young Credit-Card salesman buttonholed the Dad with a young daughter in from of me.
'excuse me, Sir...' he began till he got the brush-off. Then he turned to try his luck on me.
'Hey, buddy...' he started, but my only interest in credit cards at the moment is which scissors are best at cutting them up!

But why did the other guy rate a 'Sir', yet he felt he could address me as 'Buddy'? Do I LOOK like his buddy?

But it made me think of something that happened in Germany, not once, but twice.
Both at Hamburg and in Hannover, while being involved in festivals, children came to me and said 'Du bist ein Clown!' (you are a clown) Yes, I admit I had some face-paint on, and a funny hat, and yes I was acting up at the time, but the point is, to correctly address an adult in German, especially one they don't really know, shouldn't they have gone with the more formal 'Sie sind ein Clown...' ?

I get no respect...

Thursday, July 06, 2006

a rare day

It's 6th of June, and for the first time since about 1997 I went to work! I thought I'd better, I probably wont be there next June 6, if all goes well. On previous 6th junes I have taken days off, and remembered travelling to places. Its a good day to travel. In 1998 I started in Dunlo in Western Pennsylvania, and by bed time, and two vans and three planes later, was in Port Antonio in Jamaica.
In 1999 I left Singapore at midnight, and after two planes, two vans and several hours on a train was in Ostrava in the Czech republic. In the middle of that was 8 hours of walking in Prague.
in 2000 and 2001 I was in Sydney for the Hillsong conferences.
Since then it's either been a weekend, or I have taken the day off.
This year, I thought I had used all my allocated holiday days off, what with two weeks with the Commonwealth games, then three weeks in Germany for the world cup, but, as I discovered today, I still had a few days up my sleeve.
So, June 6, 2006, memorable only for being not memorable in any way...
I need less days like this!

Next year I will be somewhere else doing something different.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

singin' the Azzuri...

This morning I did a silly thing. I got up at 5am to watch some football. I wanted to see Germany exact some revenge for Australia on the Italians. Or maybe I just wanted to hear some German singing. There are German people I love to hear sing, but in hindsight it was very unlikely that they would be in Dortmund for the game. And even if they were, I don't think I would hear them anyway.
So, about 2 hours of playing time after I got up a goal was finally scored. Unfortunately it was by the Italians. To make sure of it they scored a second one a minute later and the game was over... If only Australia had managed to last out 'til extra time last week, we might've won and found ourselves in the last eight, then beaten Ukraine, Germany, and whoever wins tomorrow and being world champs! What ifs and might've beens. If only... if.. if... If my Grandmother had wheels, she'd be an omnibus....
Still, the singing lasted the whole game, although it was more Italianate rather than Germanic at the end. But soccer songs sound much the same whoever sings them, I think. Thousands of people in full voice, though not a lot of harmony. Singing on the train in Berlin was a wonderful experience (see a previous blog), the feeling of adding your voice to a whole and creating a sound that's bigger than all of you. And the pride of singing for your country in a foreign land is special too.
One day however I will sing with a vaster crowd, inumerable. With people of all nations,including Germans and Italians, singing a song with one accord. We sang 'Ich will von deine Liebe singen, immer von deine Liebe singen' and in English 'I will sing of your love forever..' and 'our God is an Awesome God' and felt a touch of the hereafter in the here and now. But to sing 'Holy Holy..' with the angels will beat anything.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

a journey...

yup, i'm back home, feeling a bit sleepy, but I guess you can expect that.
Here's how to get from Friedenau to Bayswater...

Thurs 22. 9:10am lug your bags to Frederich-Wilhelm-Platz and catch the U9 underground train in the direction of Osloer Str. but get off at the next stop at Bundesplatz and go up the escaltor to get an S41 on the ring line going anti-clockwise. Austeig rechts at Jungfernheide and get on a bus. Acording to the plan we had, the airport bus goes from here. Plan is old, it changed a month ago, so catch another bus and go two stops and catch bus 109 or X9 (express service) to Tegel Flughaven. A better plan would've been to stay on the U9 to Zoo Station, and catch the X9 from there. But we didn't know that then. Said 'Seeya' to Daniela, never Goodbye...
11:40 LH183 Berlin to Frankfurt. 55mins
14:40 VN542 Frankfurt to Ho Chi Minh City. 11 hours, 25 mins or so. I meet up with Peter and Graeme and they bring news that the Economy part of the Vietnam Airlines plane is over-booked. We ask nicely and get upgraded to deluxe economy. Very nice, hardly anyone in that section, a bit of extra leg room and we could stretch out on the long flight and get comfy. Didn't sleep though...
Graeme heads off to a backpackers hotel, while Peter and I get the complimentary bus to our Day hotel deeper in the town. For 45 minutes our (thankfully airconditioned - very sticky here) wends it's way through the Saigon traffic, like a whale in an ocean teeming with significantly smaller sea life. This mad-crazy scooter city.
A few hours for spazieren, sleeping and showering before getting on a smaller, less air-conditioned bus back to the terminal, for interminable queuing and news that our plane was delayed. Lot's of sitting around waiting. I read Stasiland while Peter fell asleep in his chair.
Over 90 mins late, VN781 finally takes off. No possiblity of an upgrade, and in fact, my seat has less legroom than normal. There is a metal box fitted under the seat in front at exactly the place I want to put my right foot. So my right leg was always on a slight angle and I was worried that it would affect my knee. However, I did manage to get some decent sleep in for once, and awoke in daylight somewhere over Oz and not very long before breakfast!
Arrived at around 10am 24 June(all times local times), the pilot had picked up time, but it was still an 8 hour sort of flight. Peter was flying on to Launceston and thence by donkey or camel to Poatina. I caught to airport bus to 'Southern Cross Station'. Silly name, most people still know it as 'Spencer Street'. Coincidentally Papestr. Bahnhoff in Berlin has also been recently up-graded and renamed Südkreuz - German for south cross. What's with this city synchronicity?
Anyhow, to plat form ten, get a Belgrave train and get off at Bayswater, then about three stops on the Chirnside park bus (don't recall it's number) and walk down my street.
So that's 6 buses, 3 trains and three planes...
It's easy. Come visit some time.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Berlin... the next days

Saturday night... about 2 thirds of our team went in to the Fan-Meile to watch some live big-screen action with a large crowd. And it was quite a large crowd, the game Italy vs USA was already underway, and the Italians had already scored two goals, one for each team! But we were there for the atmosphere and there was plenty of that! We watched on one of several huge screens set up on Srasse des 17 Juni, (co-incidentally it WAS the 17th day of June.) the screen which almost totally blocked out the Brandenburger Tor. We were split into small groups by the crush of the crowd, but we managed to re-group at the end for a yelling of Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, oi, oi, oi and another group photo. On the train back to Nollendorf Platz, we had a sing off with a bunch of German fans, us singing (very loudly) 'give me a home among the gum trees' and Advance Australia Fair' and 'Waltzing Matilda' and them answering with songs like 'we will win, all others are §$%&' and such like. But it was fun and we got a big cheer from the passengers when we got off.
Sunday night I watched Brasil play Australia at Korps Süd-West Berlin, and was not impressed by the World Champions. A zwei-null win flattered them.
Monday and I went to Potsdam with Daniela, beautiful gardens, old buildings, and much walking on a warm day. Then dinner with Dani and Uta in an Italian restaurant
Tuesday and Uta took me to Treptower park, a very Russian Memorial to the victims of Fascism and the heros of the soviet union... after that we went to the Korps Berlin-Mitte to watch Deutschland play Ecuador. The local boys had a good win, and I saw that Mitte was very different to Friedenau where I am staying now. Kind of Bohemian... On the way home from there, we started to see the local football fans fill the train. Not only were there 70,000 at the Berlin Olympic Stadion, but perhaps 700,000 on the fan-meile. We would've been swamped if we were any later getting through.
Today was shopping with Dani, and now I should be packing, for tomorrow, I return to Ho Chi Minh city, and thence home, to Melbourne.
However Berlin also feels like home, and one day, I will return here.

Sunday, June 18, 2006


Today Honza blog comes to you from sunny Berlin. This morning a good number of the team flew back to Aust. Well, they are now either at Frankfurt Airport, or already on their way to Ho Chi Minh City. The rest of us went to a nice German church in NollendorfPlatz, complete with wireless translation headphones for those whose grasp of the German Language is less than superior.
Later tonight I will go to die Heilsarmee in Friedenau to see my oldest german friends, Uta and Daniela, and watch Australia take on the might of Brazil...
Yesterday we were in Lutherstadt Wittenberg learning all about Martin Luther, and seeing the places he walked, spoke, and nailed things to doors. On thursday night we watched the Luther movie in Wittenberg, so we had lots of context. Luther had an amzing effect on German, European, and world history, just through standing up and saying the church had it all wrong, that they should get back to the teachings of Jesus.
On Thursday we had come from Herrnhut, where for the third time I saw Poland in the distance without actually going there. Herrnhut is, topically, the birthplace of German football. English students studying under the Moravians brought the game with them, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Perhaps in a previous blog you read how the Moravians influenced John Wesley. In Herrnhut, Count Zinzendorf provided a safe haven for the Moaravian Christians fleeing persecution in their own land. From there they started a missionary movement which touched, and influenced most of the world.
It's amazing how much of an influence Germany has on world history, both good and bad. If a revival is to come to Europe it would have to start here. And if ever a place needed to rediscover its incredible christian roots, it's this one. I feel i have a part to play, The harvest is ready, but the workers are so few...

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

hamburg pictures

Okay, for you who can't find their way in a german website, here's the link to the pictures!
Hallo from Hannover!!!
On Sunday I tried to update this from Hamburg, but there was one or two issues with a slightly dodgy connection and an over-helpfull German boy. But all is well.
The weather has been wonderful, and our German hosts have been so, so welcoming. Before we came to Germany it was cold and wet here, not much different to Melbourne, but in the last week summer has come!
After a few days in a former East German sports training centre where we learnt variuos festival skills, our group broke up into 3 teams of ten and headed out in opposite directions. My team spent three days in Hamburg at the Stadtmission they have a website check it out, they said they would put pictures from our event there. It was very good, and many new people to the church came along and enjoyed the day.
Now in Hannover we are running festivals in the street at Listerplatz, a pedestrian shopping street. There are many mothers with small children around and good contacts are being made.
I don#t have much time to chat, but thank you for your prayers etc. They are appreciated!

Friday, May 26, 2006

pre world-cup practice

Last night I went to the centre of the world's third (some say second) largest Greek speaking city to the arena where 95,000 people gathered to watch Greece, the European Football Champions, take on the Australian 'Socceroos' in a pre-cup 'friendly'. Thousands more gathered in the city to watch the game on big screens. I volunteered to help out on the Salvo Face-Painting team as a bit of a personal warm-up for the World Cup. The crowd, as happens on these occassions, was happy and determined to enjoy themselves at a big Footballing event. These things happen only rarely here, about once every four years, as Australia tries to qualify for the World Cup, and mostly fail. It's been 32 years since the last time the Socceroos featured in the Tournament, (and most of those qualifiers have been torment - so close, but no..)

Anyhoo, I got to do a spot of face-painting, and it was pretty good. I got there a bit late because I had to come from work, but for the first hour I painted mostly the blue and white of Greece, or most popularly, a Greek flag on one cheek, and the Australian on the other. Many people with divided loyalties, but then Greek Australians are a large part of what make Melbourne the Multicultural city that it is. It wasn't until the last 30 minutes that I finally started to get more Australians to paint.

It's the first time I've been to the MCG since they've completed the new stand. They got it finished in time for the Commonwealth games. And it's a huge place. 95,000 is a sell out, although I think the ground can actually hold just on 100,000. We were set up outside Gate One, the new Ponsford stand. After we packed up and the game had safely started, I was able, with the help of a Restricted Access pass, to enter the actual stands, and, well, stand! It didn't entitle me to a seat at all, but I got to soak up some atmosphere, and I was there when Josip Skoko scored. Yay! Australia one nil. Had to leave shortly after that, but I saw the goal!

In the heart of the city, Federation square was packed, and Greek flags and Greek Australian accents were heard everywhere. I spent half an hour there, until my train was due to take me home. One thing you can say about Melbourne and Melbournites, they love an event and will come out in droves for it! It's not every day that the local team gets sent of to the biggest competition in international team sports, and we meant to celebrate.

In a couple of weeks I will see first hand how this happens in another country. I've seen big crowds here at Commonwealth games, Rugby World Cup, and now soccer, and know Australians are generally well behaved and friendly at such events. How will the crowd dynamic be different? I'm not a sociologist, I never sought to be one, but one might be interested...

And now some Scores. Australia won, Greece, nil. And last week at the Fusion retreat we played our own soccer friendly. We divided into two teams (that seems to work best for Soccer), and imaginatively named them One, and Two. I was at one with the twos. The result of that game, the Ones Won, with the scoreline reading One 2, Two 1.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

kick off

well, in two weeks time I will be back in Berlin! It's starting to feel that this is true, this will happen, but it's still hard to believe, even holding the airline tickets in my hands.
Anyway, I'm trying to keep a lid on things, and take things as they come, but, Berlin! that's like, in Germany! As Rich Mullins once sang 'Well the other side of the world Is not so far away as I thought that it was' although I'm allowed to change my mind after 25 hours flying with Vietnam airlines I'm sure!

Met some of the Fusion crew yesterday. i popped in on their state retreat, and they seem like a likeable, crazy, and committed bunch. I think we will go well together. Thank you God, for opening this door!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Angels & Demons

Ok, here's the scenario, in this idea for an automaton, as you turn the handle, the ratbaggy, scruffy little angel grabs the guy's ear and jumps up and down and wave's his arms trying to get his attention. There is much good that needs doing in the world, wrongs that need to be righted, evil to be stood up against. Just as he gets the attention of the man, ol' Nick, the pious demon gives the guy a surreptitious little jab in the neck with his trident to distract him. 'Don't make waves', he says, 'What would the neighbours think?'

Martin Niemoeller wrote:

When the Nazis came for the Communists
I was silent
I wasn't a communist
When the Nazis came for the Social Democrats
I was silent
I wasn't a Social Democrat
When the Nazis came for the trade Unionists
I was silent
I wasn't a Trade Unionist
When the Nazis came for the Jews
I was silent
I wasn't a Jew
When the Nazis came for me
There was no one left
to protest

illo friday - Angels and Demons

This is Nick, a very pious and righteous demon. He is part of an idea I am working on for an automaton. Why is it Angels and Demons NOW? This isn't any where NEAR finished! and it's not likely to be before next friday! It's a pity, because it would be perfect for the topic!
I couldn't do anything for last week's topic FAT (I nearly posted an elephant picture...), although I did briefly contemplate using fat as a medium!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

The world game

On 1st July 2002, I blogged on watching the World Cup final in Melbourne while other friends were watching the same game (Brazil vs Germany) in Berlin. In slightly less than 1 month's time I will BE in Germany for the World Cup!!! This is kind of incredible, because, although I really want to go to Germany, and for the last 4 years thought the World Cup would be a good time to be there, I didn't do much more than to casually look into it.
At the back of my mind, during my time at the Commonwealth Games with the 'More Than Gold' team, I thought it would be pretty good if I could do similar things at the World Cup. As it was I heard about the work Fusion were doing at the Games, and heard they were planning on going to Germany. I made a couple of casual inquiries, and now, the rest will soon be history!
A bit from their website : Germany World Cup Outreach Arrive in Germany Sunday 4th June 2006 for 4 days of training across the country in readiness for the Opening Night on Friday June 9th 2006. The next week we will be supporting local Christians across Germany when they are running "Open Crowd" Festivals in their cities. Most of the team will return on 18th of June. Click here for Fusion's KickOff Brochure
I will stay on for an extra few days to catch up with my German friends and help out die Heilsarmee with there own World Cup outreach programs, or see if Fusion can use me for another day or so.
I feel God is calling me to do something in Germany, something perhaps more permanent than three weeks of Football festival, this is just another step in that direction. He will open doors when the time is right, and reveal what His plan is for me one step at a time. You don't always notice his leading at the time, but as you look back you can see patterns.
God has made me me for a reason, and has something for each of us to do. The Fusion mix of Creativity and Germany seems a good fit for me for June.
After that, only God knows...

Saturday, April 29, 2006

vicious fishes?

This is a family of fish I have had printed on photo paper and cut out as part of an 'under the sea' relief illustration for my two young neices. See the previous blog! Anyway, I am in the process of populating an ocean with many two dimensional computer generated sea creatures which will become hard copy, taking the idea of 3d computer art off the screen (where it's only virtually 3D) and into the real world...

Illofri - under the Sea

Deep in the sea where the Vicious Fishes swim...

For once I will present illustration Friday with an illustration I haven't done yet, instead of one I've had sitting around for ages!
Okay, well it's work in progress... As you see a gentleman has pulled his boat up on a small island and is indulging in a spot of fishing. Unfortunately his luck is out, and all he seems to be catching are old tyres and boots. Down below, 'Under the Sea', which is teeming with un-caught fish, mermaids are taking the opportunity to clean the ocean by putting old tyres and boots on his hook.
Sharp eyed viewers will eventaully also note that the 'island' is actually a very large fish who is wearing a potted palm as a disguise. 'oh er...' as they used to say in the old english comics!
The coloured mermaid is my neice Maddy who I have turned fishy. The actual artwork I am working on is in relief. I have carved the large fish background out of 6mm MDF using an NC routing machine, and painted in sea colours, eye and teeth carved into the substrate. The part I am working on now is creating lots of sea creatures on my computer, having them printed at a 1 hour photo place (matt finish), cutting them out (leaving a black outline), curving and shaping them, and mounting them on little bits of wire to float out from the back ground. Both my two neices are to be mermaids (it's a picture I am making for them), and maybe their daddy will be the fishing man. This is a technique I am experimenting a bit with at the moment. I don't know how well the finished item will photograph, but it should look good live!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

random words that go together...

these wont make much sense, but it's possibly work in progress.
Just a few words I think sound good in juxtaposition (dontch love that word?)

We live our lives in wild surmise,
where hope exists, but often lies...

The clever never think the foolish wise
the who's the what's the when's
knowing all, the questing dies,
the means unto our ends...

and where it ends, it all depends
upon the way we take
paradox and purpose, whichever God sends
discerning facts from the fake...

Where silent truth and strident lies
compete for favour before our eyes..

The way of the wise, the why's of the way...

Awaken hope from where it lies,
lift my eyes beyond the skies...

the Lie of the land is carved in the sand,
lie it all down to gain a crown....

Just a bunch of words I've been playing with. Why's wise is something I think has potentialities, not to mention two meanings for lie - and a heap of availlable rhymes too! Well, you learn more from all your mistakes than from all the takes you miss... If you never go, you''l never know.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

illofri - another Robot: Rainbot

I nearly forgot I did this - and it fits the topic pretty well I think! I mean, it IS a robot! Rainbot's job is to water the last flower in the desert, and is delighted one day to discover a butterfly.
I think this is the very first illo I did on computer. A scanned pencil sketch coloured in Corel painter 5. That might date it!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Illustration Friday - Robots!

Today's illo (subject - robots) comes with a poem...

He looked across the crowded room,
Her radiance struck his eye,
Love's arrow struck within his heart...
But he wasn't supposed to DIE!

The power surged, the sparks: they arced.
One glance, and he was dead.
The Doctor came and saw the scene
"ELECTROCUPID", he said.

To see this idea modelled in relief in brass and aluminium, check out my Angels in the Architecture site.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

slapstick - how to get a pie in the face...

It IS hard being an elephant at the circus! The things you have to do! It's not just the pies in the face, there's knives being thrown at you by blindfolded mice, who also shoot you out of canons. And as for the trapeze act, leaping from one trapeze to the welcoming arms of Michaelangelo Mouse on another, with OUT a net, can be a tad nerve-racking.

No wonder the elephant ran away from the circus to join an orphanage!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Illustration Friday - Spotted 2

I have spotted another elephant in my archives that might fit this week's theme! Although perhaps 'splatted' would be title for it...

I want the rest of my 16,000,000 colours back!!!!

Illustration Friday - Spotted!

Came across this website that encourages you to create an illustration based on that week's theme. This week the theme is 'spotted'. Unfortunately just after I received the notification email on Friday, my computer decided it was only going to handle 16 colours. This is a tad limiting, I think, the 16 colours aren't the ones I would choose for an inspiring palette. Anyway, digging into the archives, I found this cut-out elephant in a Joan Kirner spotted dress. JK was a local politician - in fact state Premier a few years back, but this isn't in any way an illustration of her!
Maybe not as lateral an interpretation as I would have prefered, but at least I get to put something on the board...

Monday, April 17, 2006

Poetica Schmoetica

In lieu of anything new to say, here's something I found scribbled in an old note pad...

My Pencil's sharp, my brain is too,
but the words? they will not come.
They're hiding somewhere down the road,
and keeping me struck dumb.

They're scared of what I'll do to them,
When I string them all together,
That I if use them wrongfully
They'll be condemned forever.

Well, I can't sit and wait for them,
I'll have to go and look,
and find, and catch, and pin them down,
and stick them in my book.

Maybe I should re-write this to make it more appropriate for this medium, but that means finding something that rhymes with 'blog' instead of book. It's all too hard.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Sunday's post was so very very long...

This one isn't.

By the way, did I overdo the exclamation mark? I think so!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

'it was the Wurst of times... '

or to re-phrase that, the Time of the Sausage. In the last week or so I've had a few. Let me count the barbecued meats I have partaken of in the last week and a bit.
It started off very well, with barbecued steak a'la Matt at the temporary Melbourne home base of the School of Youth Leadership guys in Surrey Hills. That was on Wednesday the 15th, after which we went into the city to mingle with the crowds watching the Comm Games opening ceremony at a big screen at Docklands. There was virtually no-one there, even the fairground rides were deserted. All we saw of the fireworks was whatever was reflected off the tall buildings in the city. But there was over 200,000 at the MCG and on the banks of the Yarra who had an excellent view. Many of these people shared our train on the way home. Cosy.
On Thursday we went to Werribee to hang out with the kids at the Salvo drop-in centre. We had another barbecue, Matt again showed his skills. Afterwards we hung out at Fed Square in front of the big screen and made Balloon animals. Matt and Carrington got themselves interviewed on ABC radio 774, and I made a balloon cyclist on his bike in honour of the Aussie track cycling team winning gold.
Friday was our day at the Prayer hub at Swanstons st. Church of Christ, and then in the afternoon at the 614 drop in centre. Quiet. DJ Smitty was entertaining though! After a prayer walk around the streets we decided to head home. After the others found they needed a different train to me, I decided to go for a walk along the Yarra to see what was going on with the Melbourne festival. Just as I was passing the Channel 9 Outside Broadcast spot, they opened the gates and invited us in for a free sausage in a bun!
Saturday was the day off. A chance to sleep in! And how I needed it! I was awake at 6... There was a family re-union at lunch time for Auntie Marg and Uncle Arthur, who were visiting the Games from West. Aust. Not a barbecue, but I mention it because Auntie Marrian was there, asking when was I going to visit Werribee? I didn't tell her it would be the very next day. On Saturday night I could've gone to the Ringwood Salvos picnic barbecue at Lilydale lake - I was planning to - but I thought an early night was a much better idea at the time.
No Barbecue on Sunday either, though the Werribee festival went really well, I met a lot of old friends I had not seen for years (Hello Christy!), and I gave my Auntie the shock of her life, and her camera, which she had left behind the day before. The was a big street parade, with Matt and Carrington in animal costumes, bands and Sudanese drummers. Afterwards, there were puppets, music, facepainting and balloon animals, and a drive to Maryborough.
Monday was the first day of kids games, no barbecue here either, instead, Maryborough corps gave us a roast dinner and we told them our stories, and taught them balloon animal and face painting skills.
No BBQ on Tuesday either. But KidsGames was getting better.
On Wednesday afternoon, after a morning of Kidsgames we went to Castlemaine for an afternoon of facepainting and games with the Castlemaine kids. Getting a set of drumsticks painted on his face was Andre! He used to go to my church a few years back, we didn't expect to meet up in central Victoria in such circumstances! I painted a drum on his other cheek, he had band-practice that night, but that was after he cooked the sausages for us all. Another Barbecue!
Thursday afternoon (after another busy afternoon at KidsGames) we went to Bendigo to play with and paint on more kids. For once we had them outnumbered! Feany was impressed by the recording studio and digital video set-up that they have at Bendigo Salvos. If only Bendigo was in Qld, they would have the perfect opening for him! A youth leader with experience in media production! After the game, and a tour of the facilities, we had barbecue! Not sausages for once, it was hamburger meat. It was good to have a change.
Friday was the last day of KidsGames, pool day, water play day, and closing ceremony. Hope we brought a little light and joy to some dry, dusty kids. After pulling down the marquee, and packing everything away, there was another barbecue, a thank you by the organisers to all who had helped. Unfortunately by then we were already well on the way back to Melbourne.
Saturday morning started with pancakes, fruit salad and scrambled egg breakfast at the YWAM base, followed by a session of praise and worship and reports from various More Than Gold teams. Inspiring. We did okay. But there was no Barbecue.
Sunday morning at Carrum Downs Salvos. After the service we did a de-brief, but before that, more barbecued sausages! A sleepy afternoon, then off the Waverley Salvos to say good bye to some great new friends. Oh, and another Sausage sizzle...
That was a worthwhile and well spent 2 weeks away from the useless neccessity that is my job. But today is Monday, and life is back to normal... tonight we played a very close game of volleyball, narrowly going down in the third set. But things were a bit different at Volleyball tonight. What was that smell? Yes, as a fund raiser the Volleyball Association were having a sausage sizzle.
I had to have one.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

home again...

Well, I am home from the bustling hive that is Maryborough in central Victoria, and I am so glad to sleep in my own bed again. We had an amazing time running kidsgames for the local kids, as well as visiting Castlemaine and Bendigo and meeting great people there too! But my energy ran out just as the week did, and an early night would probably be a Good Thing.
There is the possibility that photos will appear here soon, and also that Murray will launch his own personal blog. It won't be as darkly serious as mine tends to get, but gorilla philosophy still can get quite deep y'know!
Yesterday I said goodbye to the guys in Maryborough, as well as the Bendigo and Castlemaine guys who also were involved. Today we had breakfast with the YWAM guys at their headquarters here in Melbourne, heard a few fantastic reports of what had been happening during the games here in Melbourne as well as a report from Matt about our adventures. Then we said goodbye to the YWAM guys from Adelaide. Tomorrow we go to the morning service at Carrum Downs Salvos (they also ran a kidsgames there), and a debriefing, and then I say goodbye to the SYL guys. They drive back to NSW on Monday.
A time of goodbyes. You spend one or two weeks working with and getting to know some really wonderful people. You make lots of new friends and learn a lot about yourself in the progress. And then you say goodbye, perhaps never to see them again.
But never is a long time, and as the YWAM people said, even if our paths don't cross again on this Earth, we will meet again in heaven.
And there are no goodbyes there.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


This week, Honzablog comes to you from the little town of Maryborough, in the Golden Triangle area of Victoria. As part of a More than Gold Commonwealth Games outreach program, I am here with several guys from the Salvo Youth Leadership School in NSW, and some YWAM guys from Adelaide to help the local churches run a Kids Games event.
The More than Gold thing started last Monday with two days of training and networking in Melbourne. Then when the Commonwealth games spectacular began, we hit the streets with balloon animals, face paint and some slickly produced sports related christian literature. All of us found the people we met, especially those on the trams and trains, were keen to chat and were interested in our large name tags and cool(!) purple T-shirts (start wearin' purple...)
On Sunday we went to Werribee to take part with the local Salvos in a big parade and street festival. Some Sudanese guys marched with us, then sang and played drums at the end of the march. I found a muppet type creature, and had a lot of fun interacting with kids along the parade route. After the parade, the Werribee Salvos band played, and the puppets sang, and kids danced and had fun, while the team painted more faces and made balloon Animals. Carrington, from Zimbabwe, painted me to look like Spiderman. I wore this face all the way on our long drive to Maryborough.
The town looks very dry, as it is in the grip of a drought, very little green around. But the people are really friendly, and this kids, well kids just want to have fun. The weather has been perfect for games, bright and sunny, but probably not so good for the town's lawns, or the prosperity of the farming Community.
Today was the second day of Kids Games, and teething troubles seemed to be getting ironed out. But the local people have done a fantastic job of organising things in a short time, and the kids seem to be having a great time. They are divided up into 9 teams and wear team bandanas. Points are scored for each game. Kids can also pick up points for their good behaviour, whether they help each other, encouragement etc.
In this town, there is little for kids to do, so we are very popular at the moment. Hopefully, the outcome of it is, a bit of the Christian message will rub off, and this little fun event will resonate through eternity.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Prerov - More on Moravia...

This statue depicting a man (not sure who...) holding a bible up for all to see is in the town square of the old part of Prerov. Incredibly, some might say miraculously, it survived the Communist regime who saught to remove signs of religion wherever they could.
Moravia (a region of the Czech Republic) was especially prominent during the early days of the Reformation and Protestantism. A Church historian could probably tell you heaps more than me! A prayer meeting was held around here that ran for about 100 years, which does tend to put the 24/7 movement of a week of solid prayer into context. (Some prayer meetings have felt like 100 years long, but that's another story...)
I assume the sculpture displays Martin Luther's idea of sola Scriptura, that Christians should only really trust the Word of God, and not rely on the pronouncements of the Church. Of course, this was not well received by the Catholic Church, who held all the religious power then. Following the 30 Years War, which was waged to squash these dangerous ideas, Moravian Christians were spread far and wide, taking the seeds of the reformation with them.
Some made it to England, where they converted Charles Wesley, who became an extremely influential preacher and (with his brother, John) hymn writer, he went on to form the Methodist Church. It was with the United Methodists of Western Pennsylvania that I visited Jamaica. And it was a Methodist Minister called William Booth that founded the Salvation Army, which is my own spiritual heritage.
Thank God for those crazy Moravians, for they have allowed me to travel the world, but more importantly, shown the truth of God to the world. They have passed the baton on, now it's our turn...

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Here are Camille, some guy I don't recall, Honza and Ardi engaging in some quality singalong time with the Prerov gypsy kids. Note that the Honza pictured is not me! Honza seems to be Czech for John, and as half the guys that we came across appeared to be called Honza, the girls in my team dubbed me Honza too. I hope they weren't inferring that I was in any way common! Actually I feel it's probably one of the coolest nick-names I've ever been given. A bit more unusual than Johnno or Johnnie, except perhaps in Moravia and Bohemia. There was one young Honza we came across that wanted us to call him Johnna, perhaps in honour of me, or perhaps because it had a cool exotic Anglicky (English) feel to it. Anyway, that, dear reader is the origin of the name of Honzablog, just in case you were wondering...
Tak ahoj! - that's the Czech equivalent of bye now!

PS, I should've mentioned that shortly after returning from Central Europe, Leah met Scott, Scott met Leah, love ensued, and now they both have been to Prerov...

PPS, Due to the inadequacies of my Anglicky keyboard i have been rendering Prerov incorrectly. There should be a little 'v' sign over the first 'r' in the world giving it a 'ch' sound, it should be pronounced P-CHAIR-ov. Similarly Dvorak the composer has a similar sounding r in his name. Just a small point for all the linguistic purists out there...


This time of year in my church is a special focus on the work of the Salvation Army in far-off places. In a few weeks will be the Self-denial appeal, where we are encouraged to give as much as we can to support this work. I always find it interesting, because foreign countries and cultures fascinate me, and it's good to see how the Kingdom of God is being extended in such exotic places; when I grow up, maybe I will be a Missionary!
Anyway, the Army has produced a short series of video spots (on DVD actually) to be played in the Sunday meetings to highlight the needs in various countries. Today's short episode came from Prerov in the Czech Republic. This was more than interesting because I have actually been there!
Scott Ellery, our video host, showed us around the Gypsy ghetto (where I spent some hours playing with the kids), and introduced us to the charismatic and energetic Captain Jana Coufalovi, of the local Salvos (who I had already met, back in 1999, Sunday July 11 to be exact!) (yep, checked my journal for that!). Really good stuff. Those gypsy kids were really just like kids anywhere - in fact they reminded me so much of the Jamaican kids I had met the year before with their natural rhythm and love of music. Leah, one of my team mates and a music student, was particularly impressed by this.
One thing stood out to me about those kids. Despite the dirty and run-down conditions in the ghetto the kids loved playing, like any other kids. But there was an underlying spirit there, hard to define. One small lad had done something good with a ball we where playing with, so, I thought it deserved a 'high five'. The boy cringed, thinking I was about to hit him.
My Czech and Romany language skills are quite limited, but I was able to convince him I meant no harm, tried again with the high five, and was rewarded with a huge grin.
I wonder how that boy is today. I didn't recognise him in the video, but he must have doubled his age by now. But that doesn't matter. God knows who he his and how he is. And God is working through the Army in Prerov, I am sure of it! There are programs to help the children with their education, and barriers of prejudice are slowly being broken down between the Romanies and the mainstream Czech population. The Nazis put them in concentration camps, the Communists stopped them travelling and put them in ghettos, the Salvation Army is showing them new hope and worth. It will take a long time, but transforming society is one of the core values of the Army wherever you go in the world.
Check out Vanessa's report on our visit to Prerov.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006


If you must see one film this year set in Jerusalem with religious themes and filmed entirely in middle eastern languages, make it Ushpizin. Much lighter in tone than Mel's Epic from a couple of years back, it is nevertheless very orthodox, very kosher, yet gently funny.

This is the first time I have been to see a film at the cinema where the owner of the cinema comes out and explains the film to us. He spoke briefly about how he saw it at Cannes and fell in love with it, and brought it to Australia. He explained it was the big hit of the Israeli cinema circuit last year, both with orthodox and secular Jews.

He gave us background on the making of the film. Shuli Rand, who plays the main character Moshe Balanga, was Israel's leading actor until he became religious and disappeared from the public eye. Nine years on he re-appears with a script that reflects both his own story and that of Abraham and Sarah. His wife in the film is his real life wife - a male and female orthodox Jew cannot be alone together unless they are married, so another actress would not have done. Anyway Mali (that was her character's name) was perfect in the role. Most of the parts in the film were played by orthodox jews who weren't actors, but who did a credible job at portraying themselves.

The Cinema guy also told us of the Feast of the Tabernacles, or the Festival of Succoth, which is the time of year when the film is set. Every year Jews remember the wanderings in the wilderness of Moses and the Children of Israel by erecting crude huts to live in for a few days. It puts life into perspective. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:1 Now we know that if the earthly tent in which we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in Heaven, not built by human hands. (read the next few verses for more). A miracle provides the penniless Moshe and Mali with a nice, big hut.

There is also the four species, four plants which represent the four types of human beings. They are brought together in the hands and shown to the four directions of the earth, and up and down, as a symbol and prayer for the unity of humanity. Another miracle provides the couple with enough money not only for the feasting, but to buy one perfect (and we mean PERFECT) Citron, one of the four species.

But with miracles comes the testing of faith, in this case in the form of the Ushpizin, two 'guests', from God, who turn out to be a pair of escaped convicts, one of whom was an old friend from Moshe's pre-religious, violent past.
A movie about faith and the possibility of change. If you want to see the implications of sincere faith, and don't mind reading subtitles (or are fluent in Yiddish and Hebrew, the German people I was with understood a lot of the Yiddish bits, and I discovered one of the words they were using for God was very similar in my ears to the the Czech word for God - Bohu! one of the few words I know in Czech!), go see it!

Official Site IMDB

Friday, February 17, 2006

King Kong and Murray

A little while back I introduced Chicken Little, a quick animation I had done, based on a character invented by a work colleague of mine. The Disney Corporation has since produced their own version.

Anyway, a few years ago now, Murray and I passed through New York, and Murray wrote On his website, some thoughts about our time there, and about his great Uncle Kong, who was a previous visitor. If you keep an eye on what goes on in the Cinema, you would have noticed recently, that Kong has returned!

This is just a pointer to remind you all that 'Murray's World' is not just topical, but 6 years ahead of the game! Check out New York with Murray...

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Further Adventures in the Romanian Underworld

Well, dear reader, it's time to delve deeper into the Romanian Underworld.
There is a TV commercial here where a young man walks into a book shop and asks for a book called Adventures in the Romanian Underworld. The whole set-up made the book sound intriguing, and so I googled for it. And I found, after blogging on about my thoughts, I was not the only one. Several other people also found it intriguing enough to google. Some of them found my way to my blog, and left their cards under my door. Thank you very much!
For more on this, check out my blogs of Jan 17 (the Omniscience of Google?) and my original blog on the subject (Adventures in the Romanian Underworld) on Jan 10.
Anyway, I was thinking that the bank in question has missed an opportunity to get their message across! In the ad, various people come into the man's cosy bookshop (that apparently also has a cafe, but we don't see this...), and ask to buy certain titles. A woman asks for something something Italiano il Grande (I don't quite catch what she says, help me out!), and receives it, the young guy asks for Adventures in the Romanian Underworld, and gets it. A third man says 'I want to buy Your Business.'
The bookseller says he doesn't have that title, and the man says 'no, I want to buy your Business!'
The bookseller's eyebrows hesitate, then shoot upwards in interest.
Then, the ad reveals what it's all about. Come into some unexpected money? Let us help you! We at the bank with our interest rates etc...
The stupid thing is, I'm not even sure which bank it is! My interest goes when banks start talking about interest! It might not even BE 'which bank'!
Anyway, I was thinking if the bank whipped up a fake website advertising, say, Adventures in the Romanian Underworld, professionally done to look convincing, they could easily get the hits my blog has got in the last few weeks. And then people like me would at least know Which Bank, or What Bank or Even Why Bank it is!
Look, it wouldn't cost them anything to do in terms of their Advertising budget!
In fact, I have done a sample for them. Check out this link, and let us know what you think...
Here it is, a fictional Bookshop/Cafe that I have chosen to call Literatte reviewing the Fictional Fiction Adventures in the Romanian Underworld!

Friday, February 03, 2006

Blog Tag...

Pick me, pick me... ooh, I'm such a follower, everyone's doing it, I've just blog-tagged myself.
Here's how it goes. You make a list, I don't know if it has to be definitive, of stuff about you and, well, easier to see it than go on about it. Then you tag someone so that they get to do it too. If that makes sense, I'm not sure that it does! As I learn German, I think it squeezes my English gramatical skills out of my head..

4 Jobs I have had:

Paper boy.
Riding shotgun to a snack foods delivery driver
Computer Engraving guy
Cartoon Animal Muralist

4 Movies I can watch over and over:

Wings of Desire
the Matrix (1, not 2 or 3)
Rosenkrantz and Guilderstern are dead is one I would like to see again to see if I would like to see it some more....

4 Places I have lived:

Parkdale, Bayswater, both in WA and Victoria

4 TV shows that I love:

Gilmore Girls
Historical Doco's
The Panel
Sophie's World
The Australia vs England test at Lords

4 places I have vacationed:

Ocho Rios
600+km across the back of New South Wales on a bicycle
Grandma's place in Warrnambool

4 Favorite foods:

Chocolate with Hazelnuts in it
Chicken Parmigiana
Ice cream
Fresh Pineapple
toasted ham and cheese sandwiches... (!)

4 sites I visit regularly:

Blogs of Friends - German with Hyde Flippo
various Graphics sites

4 places I would rather be:

right now? in bed. sleeping...
Somewhere in Germany, pref the eastern bit. Berlin, Dresden... what's Leipzig like?
Or at least Europe. Or somewhere else tropical! Is Canada tropical?
Or perhaps Byzantium...
Hey, I already live in the World's most Liveable City... Whatever that means!
In the Centre of God's Will

4 Bloggers I want to tag...

All the bloggers I'd want to tag seem to have already done it, so...

Reading back over my list, I think need to reconsider the concept "4"

Friday, January 27, 2006

down by the Riverside

It was a beautiful evening last night, so I went for a stroll down by my local river, which is something I don't do very often. Actually I often go for a walk in that area - it's on the way to my local supermarket - but usually there isn't a river there. There IS a small concrete drain there which upstream and downstream from me is a creek, but on occassions, it shows its aspirations for something bigger.

Might back-track a bit. Yesterday was Australia Day, a summer public holiday, a day for beach and barbecue and carefully controlled fireworks displays over water in major cities. Yesterday also had a strong, gusty north wind, and a blazing sun, which, in late January, gives you 40deg C temperatures. Thats quite warm y'know! Better to seek shelter in air-conditioned comfort.

And so I went to the Cinema, and spent a couple of fun hours with The Producers. Not really convinced by Will Ferrel's German accent, and as for Uma Thurman's Swedish accent, who was listening?? Anyway, it was a lot of fun.

After that it was time to brave the heat for a spot of cricket training with the team. Considering the weather and the public holiday, we weren't expecting a big turn out but the half dozen of us had a good time throwing cricket balls at each other as the clouds gathered. Suddenly there was rain, coming in fast and heavy and almost horizontal. And with it, tiny, stinging hailstones. We laughed at the added difficulty, it was kind of fun getting soaked through in those conditions. Even though the temperature dropped 15 degrees in 15 minutes, it still stayed warm.

Eventually though, we thought enough was enough and went our seperate ways, after briefly contemplating standing in a cicle singing 'Four Seasons in one Day'. Driving home, I noticed that the traffic lights weren't working. I decided that I should pop in and visit mum and dad on my way, but there was a pine tree laying across the road where it had blown down in the squall. Some locals were chopping it up with a chain saw to clear the road. It takes something like this for people to show their community spirit.

I pulled out my mobile phone to call mum, just to check that they were home, and found that it was buzzing quietly to itself, and the display screen was half full of water....

I drove around the block and found mum and dad sitting in the silence of their powerless home. The electricity cut that had put out the traffic lights, had affected the whole neighbouhood. When I returned home, I also had no power. There was not much I could do. The rain had cleared, and the sun was back out, shining in a more caring, benelovent way, for it's last hour or so before sunset.

That's when I grabbed my walkman and went for a walk to the river. It's amazing that half an hour of heavy rain could turn 6 inches of drain water into a 15m wide, 3m deep raging torrent.
I bet it's back down to normal levels now.

The power came back on just as it was getting too dark to read, and we were able to see the last bit of Australia beating Sri Lanka in the cricket, and then Bahgdadis the Cypriot beating the Argentine Nalbandian for a place in the OZ open Tennis finals. This town is quickly becoming an outpost of Cyprus...

How did you spend your Australia Day?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Snail Mail Surprises

There is something about recieving solid state mail that email can never replace, moreso when it is unexpected. Yesterday, upon arriving home, I was greeted with three mail items addressed to me. TWO of them were actual cardboard boxes!
The first box was from our very good friends at Amazon. Some books that I had ordered before Christmas had arrived. They were Steve Turner's book 'Imagine' and Madeleine L'Engle's book 'Walking on Water'. Both books deal with creativity, artistry and spirituality. Perhaps I will blog a book review later; anyway, excellent work by Amazon, I was glad to take delivery, but it was not unexpected.
Box two was a belated Christmas parcel from a friend in a continent in a completely different hemisphere from here. It contained chocolate! And an Advent Calender which also contained chocolate! Also there was a birthday present. Even more belated, because my birthday was in August. It was a yellow book, to be exact, Langenscheidt's Taschenwoerterbuch for Englisch! Very useful, especially for translating the little poems behind the doors on the Adventskalender. Even the screwed up junkmail which was included as packaging was interesting! Kleine Preise! at Plus - Herrenpyjama for 7.99eu, Kaffeevollautomat for 219eu (was 299!), Pyrocom Feuerloeschspray 9.99eu. Vielen Dank, Freundin! The contents were a surprise, but I was warned that something was coming, so that wasn't unexpected.
Item three. Now this was a surprise. Unexpected, and, may I say, unwanted. Our very good friends at the Automatic Detection Department contend that my vehicle was proceding in a southerly direction on Elgar Rd at an alleged speed of 66km/h in a 60 zone. Perhaps I was... but don't I get any credit at all for the 99% of the time I am within the correct speed? The police department do not get the whole concept of grace. The Police had enclosed an envelope for me to use to send them the fine money. Nope! Why should they have the joy of recieving mail of worth? Ha! I paid my fine on-line.

the Omniscience of Google?

A few days ago I wrote a little on googling for 'Adventures in the Romanian Underworld'. That was the title of a fictional piece of fiction on a television commercial that's been seen here-abouts. A couple of days later, I thought I would google Adventures Romanian Underworld once more to see if my blog entry had made it into the top 100. It hadn't. Then I tried the same thing with a blog search. Still no sign, even though everything that came up was less specific than what I asked for!
As a bit of a last resort I did a 'search MY Blog' action, and wouldn't you know it, our very good friends, the Heinzelmaennchen at Google STILL couldn't find it! They didn't need to look as far as the Romanian Underworld, they only needed to cast their eyes down about two entries! As a test, I tried a search for 'werewolves' and found some, and succesfully tried other topics too. But Adventures in the Romanian Underworld remains a mystery...

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

conjugated Were-wolves

In my last post I made passing reference to were-wolves. And it reminded me of an apparantly un-translateable poem in German playing on the different tenses of 'were' in relation to wolves.
Here for fans of Christian Morgenstern's poetry is 'The Werewolf', first in English, and then for the bilingual purist, in German for easy comparison.


A Werewolf, troubled by his name,
Left wife and brood one night and came
To a hidden graveyard to enlist
The aid of a long-dead philologist.

"Oh sage, wake up, please don't berate me,"
He howled sadly, "Just conjugate me."
The seer arose a bit unsteady
Yawned twice, wheezed once, and then was ready.

"Well, `Werewolf' is your plural past,
While `Waswolf' is singularly cast:
There's `Amwolf' too, the present tense,
And `Iswolf,' `Arewolf' in this same sense."

"I know that--I'm no mental cripple--
The future form and participle
Are what I crave," the beast replied.
The scholar paused--again he tried:

"A `Will-be-wolf?' It's just too long:
`Shall-be-wolf?' `Has-been-wolf?' Utterly wrong!
Such words are wounds beyond all suture--
I'm sorry, but you have no future."

The Werewolf knew better--his sons still slept
At home, and homewards now he crept,
Happy, humble, without apology
For such folly of philology.


Ein Werwolf eines Nachts entwich
von Weib und Kind und sich begab
an eines Dorfschullehrers Grab
und bat ihn: »Bitte, beuge mich!«

Der Dorfschulmeister stieg hinauf
auf seines Blechschilds Messingknauf
und sprach zum Wolf, der seine Pfoten
geduldig kreuzte vor dem Toten:

»Der Werwolf«, sprach der gute Mann,
»des Weswolfs, Genitiv sodann,
dem Wemwolf, Dativ, wie mans nennt,
den Wenwolf, -- damit hats ein End.«

Dem Werwolf schmeichelten die Fälle,
er rollte seine Augenbälle.
»Indessen«, bat er, »füge doch
zur Einzahl auch die Mehrzahl noch!«

Der Dorfschulmeister aber mußte
gestehn, dass er von ihr nichts wußte.
Zwar Wölfe gäbs in grosser Schar,
doch »Wer« gäbs nur im Singular.

Der Wolf erhob sich tränenblind--
er hatte ja doch Weib und Kind!
Doch da er kein Gelehrter eben,
so schied er dankend und ergeben.

This translation is Copyright © 1957 & 1989
by Alexander Gross. It may be
reproduced for individuals and for
educational purposes only. It may
not be used for any commercial (i.e.,
money-making) purpose without
written permission from the author.

Adventures in the Romanian Underworld

The place smelt of fresh coffee and old books. It recalled vistas of fabled destinations, fascinating men with dangerous ideas, exotic women with exciting eyes. Deeds of daring, worlds of imagination, places you can visit, and people to share incredible lives with; all without leaving the comfort of your favorite armchair.
The young man with the tousled hair, slightly unkempt beard and the air of a perpetual student ran a tense finger around the neck of his grey pullover. Surely this place would have what he sought. The man at the counter looked knowledgeable and efficient, surely he could help.
"Do you have... 'Adventures in the Romanian Underworld' ", he asked with a nervous chuckle. The man reached behind him as a passing assistant placed the required volume in his hand. He proffered it to the younger man with raised eyebrows and a conspirational smirk...

After watching this segment of a bank commercial on my TV I was intrigued. Was there such a book? What was it about? Visions of dark crumbling Gothic edifices shrouded in fog and incessant thunderstorms; and pale men with widows peaks and eastern European accents and a penchant for black capes and echoing, humourless laughter danced in my head (replacing the visions of sugarplums that had been dancing there since the night before Christmas) . Or was it just a line plucked from the twisted imagination of some advertising copy-writer? Time for serious research. Time for Google!

There were about 296 results for 'Adventures Roumanian Underworld' and a further 85,700 results for 'Adventures Romanian Underworld'. I can't claim to have searched through every single entry, but there does not appear to be a book of this title on the net. The closest I could find was a double DVD set with the films 'The Cave', which was set in Romania, beneath the Carpathian mountains, and 'Underworld', a dramatic fictionalised account of the sometimes stormy relationships between Vampires and Werewolves.

A pity, because the title held such promise, and judging by the reactions of the bookseller and the chap buying, there is the decided hint of 'cult classic' written all over it.

If you have come across this post as a result of googling 'Adventures Romanian Underworld' I would love to here from you! Please comment, it's fun, it's free, and all the cool kids are doing it!

Monday, January 02, 2006

New Look for Honzablog

I thought it was time for a make over, and to try my hand at modifying an off the rack Blog template. It's my first look at Cascading Style Sheets. They've been around for a long time, so I thought I'd better get with the program. Besides, it IS a new year!
The heading graphic was produced using Macromedia Flash 3, Photoshop 7 and my new Wacom graphics tablet. If you are fed up with trying to draw with your mouse I suggest you look into these. Much fun!
For those of you who are interested in such things, The Lord of the Rings style text at the top says 'a bit of random Tengwar for graphic texture'.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

All is quiet on New Years Day...

New Years resolutions. Anybody ever keep them? It's usually just so much well intentioned wishful thinking. What would happen if I resolved to blog at least 5 times a week? It sounds like a fine idea, but I would let my avid reader down by breakfast time on Tuesday, and I don't even have the excuse of being too busy at work (on holidays) or have too many church commitments (all programs on a break right now).

I could take the easy way out and resolve to be more creative in my procrastination, but what I think is needed is not
resolution, but REVOLUTION! Not a superficial change, but a deep-seated re-working from the top down. Transformation. It's not something you can do by yourself. You need help.

Here's a little song I wrote... well, the lyrics anyway, I'm not so hot on tune-smithing!

Shake me,

I must be shaken,

Out of my complacent ways.

Wake me,

I must awaken,

to face the waste of lazy days.

Break me,

I must be broken,

to be rebuilt as per your plan.

Make me,

It will be spoken,

This child will grow to be your man.

My world revolves in tiny loops,

My eyes deceived by worldly dupes,

My diet consists of toothless soups,

I'm too soft to be of your troops.

The track I trek is rutted deep,

The steps I step are walked in sleep,

If you're a shepherd, well, I'm a sheep,

Help me find my way...

Take me,

I must be taken,

Just one step at a time,

Ache me,

I must be aching,

to live your life through mine.

Shake me, wake me

break me, make me

take me as I am.

I have naught to offer thee,

but I can be your man.

March 4, 2001