代禱信二

三一神學院的第一學期 (邱慕天代禱信二) 2007/9/23

n815049682_189825_3840 n815049682_189827_4490

敬愛的主內長輩弟兄姊妹平安:

 

三一神學院開學已整整一個月,伊利諾大芝加哥區氣候仍颯爽宜人,但聽說台灣此時既是颱風又是雨的,沒有幾天秋高氣爽?無論如何這裡要說聲「中秋節快樂」!雖相隔千里之遙,值此佳節我卻與您共賞一月,這一切也要感謝神的恩典。因而在此發出代禱信,不但是分享感恩與需求,也願各位主內肢體與家人在這美好的佳節都蒙神加恩、福杯滿溢。

 

來到三一的頭幾日就考了希臘文入學測驗。我頭一次與美國同學同場競試,顯得不太適應,戰戰兢兢成了全班最後交卷的兩人之一。後來在與同學聊天中,意外得知第一大題「multiple choice question」(Πολλατλασια ερωτηση επιλογης)考的是單選題。誤解為複選題並在每一題都強硬作答的我,心想恐怕要再繳學費了。幾天提心吊膽之後,系統卻通知我考過了!心情複雜與激動下,我忍不住寫信給負責這次測驗的Dr. Yabrough。他在回信中告訴我,我現在所在Dr. Pao(鮑維均牧師)的班已是最高級的班,而無論有無誤解題意,我考的分數是全部學生中第六高分的。

從以為被當到通過測驗、進而得知已身處高段班,這真是一個洗三溫暖式的奇蹟!我特別感謝華神吳存仁老師一年的希臘文教導!

 

希臘文解經A

文化詮釋學

靈命成長小組

系統神學I

教會歷史

講道學

Greek Exegesis I (4)

Cultural hermeneutics (2)

Formation Group (0)

Systematic theology I (3)

History of Christianity (4)

Theology and Methodology of Biblical Preaching (2)

Dr. David W. Pao

Dr. Kevin Vanhoozer

Dr. Kevin Vanhoozer

Dr. Allan Coppedge

Dr. Scott M. Manetsch

Dr. Greg Scharf

 

接著是選課上課。這學期修了15學分(課程如上表),大家都說對初來乍到的國際學生來說是太吃重了。但為了不讓三年的學程拖到第四年,且對得起自己前一年在華神的學習,我也只能跟美國同學一樣地修課了。課業的確是不輕鬆,每門課一次要預備200頁原文,一個星期就會畢四、五本書,有些地方我吸收得不是很好,連帶影響小考成績。報告和考試一個接著一個…下個月開始要上台用英文講道。

 

在三一給分很嚴格,分數要94-100分總成績才有A,特別是上禮拜發回一份佔總成績5分的作業,老師只給了我2分,因為我誤會了他在syllabus上的要求了。我並不希望自己變得在意分數,在這邊講成績的重要性恐怕也有很多人不能諒解,但維持滿意學術表現已是日後申請獎學金和進入理想學院深造的基本門檻。

 

接著我願分享在這一些特別的觀察和收穫。John Stott說:「聖經和神學研究本身不會促進好的講道…,除非我們以現在的研究來補充,否則就會很悲慘地孤立於文化深淵的一邊。」在三一上課,使用的教科書一定有來自2004-2007年最新的著作,內容包含當代的文化議題和學術發展,上課也重視討論與激盪。我認為這是與台灣的神學院較大差異。誠然,這些巨觀社會與世界觀的認識,對一個年輕神學家、牧者的預備是重要的。它讓學習不只是修道院式的個人或小團體靈修,也不是經院哲學式的抽象思辯,而是嘗試為信仰和生活構築更高的眼界。若再用John Stott的說法,就是:「我們可以根據聖經來解釋有關工作的教義,但我們若能以不斷增加的失業率為背景,這樣的解釋就更有意義。我們可以傳講耶穌要門徒做使人和睦的人,但是當我們知道超強國軍械駭人的存量,祂的呼召聽來就更緊要得多…」

 

我特別享受我目前指導教授Dr. Kevin Vanhoozer的「文化詮釋學」課程。他是系統神學、後現代哲學、詮釋學界的世界級學者,更精通法語。這門課吸引了爆滿的學生,我每次都要提早到教室搶第一排的座位,好能就近提問。課堂下,他也是一個關心學生的老師,我們會用法語交談。

 

由於一直讀厚厚的書本堆積很多壓力,在圖書館讀累了我常會上網看文章,以調劑心情;但往往卻很沒有效率地佔據太多時間,反而成為一種逃避的管道。目前我驚覺自己必須嚴格控制這種漫無目的上網瀏覽,以有更多專注作業和書本上。專注、自制,這算是目前個人最需要代禱的事吧!

 

本來想保持運動每個禮拜找三天上健身房的(三一有很棒的設備),但現在發現時常吃飯都沒時間了,更沒額外力氣健身。幸好禮拜五早上還會固定跟同學打打球。我住的宿舍樓層住了九個人,除了我之外其他八個是美國學生,每天生活的感情相當不錯。

大致上美國本地神學生都是年輕的一群,不乏許多1984, 1985年次、大學畢業直升的;哈佛、西北畢業的同學程度優秀,與他們作建設性的交談可以學到不少東西。還有些已是青少年牧師身份的,一貫給人的成熟獨立而又熱情的感受。

不過較難適應的一點是美國學生愛好交誼活動(或是老中生活太緊張、太有目的性了?),每個週末都有烤肉活動、上市區、看電影、或打牌等等…。我雖然不是很想參加,不過為了能夠儘早融入社群,都會試著加入。

此外感恩的是,我已確定這學期將在離學校最近的芝加哥城北華人教會聚會和服事。教會中文堂由黃健羒牧師負責、英文堂為應守義牧師。每週日我搭乘來自德州的年輕台灣神學生夫婦便車,參與崇拜和主日學,嘗試瞭解教會運作並尋求固定的配搭方式。

再次要感謝家裡爸媽對我的支持,他們目前都已無固定收入,卻願意盡力支持我唸書。寄錢、寄書、寄食物,使我目前生活無虞。此外,也是更多虧您在禱告中的紀念扶持。故請也告訴我您的代禱事項,讓我們在主裡能有更多的體恤和相交!

最近讀經:「但我們既然屬乎白晝、就應當謹守、把信和愛當作護心鏡遮胸.把得救的盼望當作頭盔戴上。因為神不是預定我們受刑、乃是預定我們藉著我們主耶穌基督得救。他替我們死、叫我們無論醒著睡著、都與他同活。所以你們該彼此勸慰、互相建立、正如你們素常所行的。」(帖前五章8節) 

信徒群體的互相幫助、在屬靈上儆醒是很重要的。在失溫的寒夜,一個人很容易就那樣睡著了,唯有互相取暖、交談,才能堅忍迎接曙光的來臨。又因個人的屬靈鑒察力和能力都是很有限的,所以行事為人要在光明中,穿戴神為我們預備的軍裝,如此就不再畏懼黑暗的權勢。 祝

恩典夠用

慕天

與爸媽(文福、意玲) 敬上

 

Publicités

Fujifilm FinePix S2000HD vs. DMC-FZ28K vs. EasyShare Z1015 IS

 

  fujifilm_finepix_s2000hd     Panasonic DMC-FZ28K

Fujifilm FinePix S2000HD

kodakdslr03  Kodak EasyShare Z1015 IS

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9/26

關於Fujifilm FinePix S2000HDPanasonic DMC-FZ28K Kodak EasyShare Z1015 IS這三台HD高畫質錄影相機,由於都是新上市而且特質太接近了,所以買了之後我還是持續不停關注。

事前講過,FinePix S2000HD強在用料和質感,這點是被測試過的人肯定的:「把手拇指靠握處經蒙處理, 顯得相當有質感。」請連到哈燒王的這個網頁欣賞它的幾張特寫吧。另外使用AA電池也使得它不論續航力、續電力都較為無虞。

然而在畫質方面S2000HD所獲得的評價卻似乎沒那麼好,亞瑪遜這則買家評論比較了S2000HD、Z1012 IS、Z1015 IS之後說道「S2000HD機身質感雖好,但相片雜訊過多」,而它提到Z1012IS在Consumer Reports這個付費網站上被評為「最好的數位非單眼相機」(奇怪,Trusted Reviews這網站才給Z1012 IS可憐的6分!畫質更只有5分!),而Z1015 IS是百尺竿頭、更進一步地修正了Z1012IS「對比不夠鮮明、柔性色調」的缺憾!他並提到在Raw原圖輸出並搭配Photoshop Noise Cleaner修圖之後,畫質更是遠勝沒有Raw輸出的S2000HD。

然而BestBuy在Z1015IS這邊有7篇買家評價,風評就不是那麼地漂亮了,雖然7人中有6人都給予了畫質不錯的肯定,但它的圖像處理(也就是相片照完之後存入記憶體再照下一張的過程)卻是緩慢到讓所有人都不得不嫌的。以我個人使用至今而言,我並不會覺得它慢;也就是雖然不太快,但並不至於影響我照相(請考慮我是第一次擁有數位相機的人並斟酌個人觀感)。

回歸畫質,現在就要談到Trusted Review給了10分滿分的DMC-FZ28K了,如您有耐心看完這篇編輯評論底下的讀者回應,你會發現發現它畫質的出色是幾乎完全沒有爭論的。Trusted Review還有圖為證,它在廣角攝影、背光攝影、及高感光度的表現下都是一等一的。而剛前面說到Consumer Reports這個付費網站上被評為「最好的數位非單眼相機」的Z1012IS的實戰相片在這裡。雖然有位讀者留了以下這樣的評論:

Somebody is blind and I’m sure it aint me! Looking at the recent 10star review of the Pana FZ28 I see washed out colours, dull green on the sports car and iffy red on the jag! Looking at the cathedral pic I see no colur whatsoever in stained glass windows, the kodak however has atleast pulled some colour from somewhere, overall the Kodak seems a million miles ahead of the Pana, including noise/colour/lightness etc, go look again, I dont own either!

而我也感覺Z1012 IS、Z1015 IS在白天的廣角相片真的很出色(我目前還無法用Z1015 IS在夜間照出sharp且noiseless的好照片,請自行衡量是誰的錯),但實際對比上面照片一些細節之後仍不難發現Z1012IS遭到比較嚴重的chromatic aberration和barrel distortion。這點上Panasonic的Leica鏡頭勝出。

若說有什麼東西讓DMC-FZ28K美中不足,那就是它的audio quality的貧乏和不夠大的sensor。其實嫌它DMC-FZ28K的sensor不夠大根本就是吹毛求疵,是基於它在這個規格底下畫質已經無敵、外加18倍鏡頭的出色表現才有的批評。Trusted Review評論底下的讀者回應很多人反應這點,同時也說明如果sensor加大,體積和重量勢必加大,那麼它就不再是compact superzoom,而是無論畫質、體積、長鏡頭都可以跟入門D-SLR一較長短的長砲相機了。

關於這點,目前設計compact superzoom的廠商似乎都忽略了這個層級的買家其實並不那麼在乎重量大小,而是期待它能成為真正一機隨身的"all-in-one machine":能廣角、能特寫、能連拍、能伸縮錄影、能方便和所有人分享生活色彩,不需要額外買一台昂貴卻少用的Camcorder。這些人貪圖攝影的樂趣,又想要紀錄生活中的每一個精彩面貌,所以不希望它是個需要掛滿一堆鏡頭、光圈、腳架,笨重得要死卻還沒有攝影功能的昂貴數位單眼-這留給那些以照相為生或以攝影為主要業餘愛好的人吧!他們要的相機也不必像catch&shoot那般小到能放口袋,因為那是以犧牲optical zoom、sensor、LCD,甚至電池功能為代價的。

卡在這上下兩個層級中間的消費者其實很多,英文稱其為prosumer而非consumer。針對這個層級生產的相機產品又叫bridge camera。

因此DMC-FZ28K幾乎是這麼地完美,但就差在audio quality和sensor兩點。剛剛說了嫌sensor是吹毛求疵,其實audio quality也有點算是,是由於它的HD高畫質錄影功能才衍生出來的缺憾。以下是它的錄音的音效數值和Canon S5 IS的比較:

FZ28: 16 bit integer (Big Endian), 16 khz, monaural
S5 IS: PCM 16 bit integer (Little Endian) 44.1 kHz, stereo 1411Kbps "CD-Quality" audio

沒錯,很多人覺得HD錄影畫質就是要配立體聲啊,單聲道沒誠意啊(在這點上Fuji的S2000HD再被打一巴掌)。還有superzoom也一定要能在錄影時拉近拉遠啊,否則要你一個長砲鏡頭的意義何在?

(FinePix S100fs)

就是這些貪婪的要求,導致廠商決定研發Fujifilm FinePix S100fs這種無論規格、體積、價格($600+-)都跨入D-SLR領域的superzoom。不過這台高規格且攝影功能齊全的S100fs並不是這個年份的產品,HD高清錄影也不在其能力表單中。所以這邊要提的乃是Canon今年第三季和第四季要出的20倍超長光學鏡頭的SX1S IS:DIGIC 4超高影像處理科技、超越1080 x 720的1920 x 1080高畫質立體聲HD錄影、2.8吋開闊的LCD、精準的自動臉部對焦、1/2.3吋的 Canon CMOS Sensor、一般compact superzoom多出50%重量的585 g、響亮的佳能口碑。我想這就是大家所期待的終極superzoom了!

PowerShot-SX1-IS-TOP (PowerShot SX1S IS)

但抱歉,它這台的報價我目前看到的是$900多美金…。有這預算把玩相機的人,難道真的會想要捨Nikon D80、Canon Rebel 450D($600+)、甚至Canon EOS 40D、Nikon D90($1000+-)這些真.單眼組合砲嗎?

如果不想買到那麼貴,那麼你的確應該回頭來看一下Kodak EasyShare Z1015 IS這台相機:HD立體聲、15x光學變焦、3.0吋大LCD、RAW原圖輸出。除了影像儲存較慢、低光源的影像表現差強人意,其實它是台出色、均衡,且價格合理($250+)的相機選擇。

 kodakdslr02(EasyShare Z1015 IS 那就再給他一張特寫吧)

最後總結一下Fujifilm FinePix S2000HD(F)、Panasonic DMC-FZ28K (P)、Kodak EasyShare Z1015 IS(K)三台相機的比較心得:

相片畫質 Image Quality: P > K > F

質感外觀 Touch and Design: F > P >> K

攝影功能 Photograph Functionality: P > F = K

觀景屏幕LCD & Viewfinder: K > F = P

價錢 Price: K >= F >> P

錄影音質 Audio Quality: K >> F = P

錄影畫質 Video Quality: P= F = K

First Digital Camera in my Life

 

以下是進入決選的相機名單:

(HD)

Panasonic DMC-FZ28K Digital Camera – Black

Lumix 10.1-Megapixel Digital Camera with 27mm LEICA DC VARIO-ELMARIT Lens, 18x Optical Zoom (27mm-486mm) and Intelligent Auto Mode; Video HDV (1280×720) at 30 fps

$319-20(coupon CCABINCJ85)-2.5% live.com cash back+0(shipping)=$290.5

 

 

Kodak EasyShare Z1015 IS

Kodak 10 Megapixel Digital Camera with 28mm SCHNEIDER-KREUZNACH VARIOGON Lens, 15x Optical Zoom (28mm-420mm) with image stabilization; Video HDV (1280×720) at 30 fps

$261-2% shopathome.com cash back+0(shipping)=$256

 

 

Fujifilm FinePix S8100fd

Fujifilm 10 Megapixel Digital Camera with 27mm Lens, 18x Optical Zoom (27mm-486mm) with image stabilization; Video (640×480) at 30 fps

$325-6% live.com cash back+0(shipping)=$305.5

 

fujifilm_finepix_s2000hd (HD)

Fujifilm FinePix S2000HD

Fujifilm 10 Megapixel Digital Camera with 28mm fujicon Lens, 15x Optical Zoom (27.6mm-414mm) with dual image stabilization; Video HDV (1280×720) at 30 fps

$270+0(shipping)=$270

 

sony_cybershot_H50_1

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H50

Sony 9.1 Megapixels Digital Camera with 31mm Lens, 15x Optical Zoom (31mm-465mm) with image stabilization; Video (640×480) at 30 fps

$346-20(coupon CCABINCJ85)-2.5% live.com cash back+0(shipping)=$318

 

 p80-nikon

Nikon Coolpix P80 Digital Camera

Nikon 10.1 Megapixels Digital Camera with 27mm Lens, 18x Optical Zoom (27mm-486mm) with image stabilization; Video TV (640×480) at 30 or 15 (time-lapse with playback) fps

$349-6% live.com cash back+0(shipping)=$328

 

  

Canon PowerShot S5 IS

Canon 8 Megapixels Digital Camera with 36mm Lens, 12x Optical Zoom (36mm-432mm) with image stabilization; Video (640×480) at 30 fps

$320-3% live.com cash back+0(shipping/ use coupon CAMERA99FS)=$310  update: office depot has a discount of this model on $199, store pick-up only.

Canon PowerShot SX110 IS

Canon 9 Megapixels Digital Camera with 36mm Lens, 10x Optical Zoom (36mm-360mm) with image stabilization; Video (640×480) at 30 fps

$248+0(shipping)=248  update: buydig.com has a new offer of this model at the price $250 with a free photo printer AR

 

 

Canon EOS Rebel XSi 12.2 MP 3.0" 230K LCD Digital SLR Camera (Black or Silver)

Canon 12.2 Megapixels Digital SLR with Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS and Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III Telephoto Zoom Combo Lens

$680+159-100(combo instant savings)-3% live.com cash back+0(shipping/ use coupon CAMERA99FS)=$717

 

Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi 12.2 MP 3.0" 230K LCD Digital SLR Camera (Black Body only)

$579-2% live.com cash back+0(shipping)=$567

 

   

Nikon D80 10.2MP Megapixel SLR

Nokon 10.2 Megapixels Digital SLR with Nikon AF-S DX Zoom-NIKKOR 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED Lens Combo

$794-20(coupon CCABINCJ85)-2.5% live.com cash back+0(shipping)=$754.5

Nikon D80 10.2 Megapixels Digital SLR (Black body only)

$600-5% live.com cash back+0(shipping)=$570

 

 

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為了讓美國的留學生活能夠留下一些美好的影像回憶,這年秋天終於決定下手買人生中第一台數位相機。跟兩年前買人生第一台筆記型電腦時一樣是如臨大敵,像寫研究論文般地比較、搜索,從學徒開始當起啊。

在看了很多評論後,逐漸確認自己目前需要的是一台有megazoom鏡頭(又叫 superzoom、ultrazoom,具有大倍數的光學變焦就對了)、自動聚焦準確敏銳、光學防震、還能有些手動把玩花樣的DSLR-like相機。

然而預算有限如我,最後是挑中了c/p值高的新貨Kodak EasyShare Z1015 IS。要是預算再充沛應該就會買Panasonic DMC-FZ28K Digital CameraCanon EOS Rebel XSi Digital SLR了,它們最近的特價也很難得,而且在網路上幾乎是一致的好評,不像Kodak只受到少許關注。(不過對初次入手相機,且忙碌到沒空學習攝影技巧的人來說,DSLR怎樣看來都太奢侈,是吧。)

—————————————————————–

9/18 17:36 update

新貨到手了。由於事前的研究做得算足,把玩測試的過程只能說相當滿意。相片品質本身沒有帶來什麼特別的驚奇震撼,倒是影片方面HD畫質是個大驚喜,沒想到數位相機也能錄出這麼細緻的畫面!目前網路上的陽春HD Camcorder單買也還要100~120美金以上。光這點就讓我慶幸自己沒有衝動地下手DSLR(無錄影功能,而太專業的單眼攝影現下又用不著) 。

所以現在如果讓我再挑一次,應該就是Fujifilm FinePix S2000HDPanasonic DMC-FZ28K 以及Kodak EasyShare Z1015 IS三台HD高畫質錄影相機當中選擇了吧。事前沒注意到Fuji也有新出HD錄影的長鏡頭Superzoom…不,應該說,不知道HD錄影竟會成為這麼一項讓人愛不釋手的功能(否則就會刻意去搜尋)!Finepix SD2000HD勝出EasyShare Z1015 IS的地方是

  1. 近年數位相機系列的品牌形象較好
  2. 使用AA電池,Alkaine、NiMH充電式、長效Lithium都能用。這些電池我事前已經買了(現在若不用就要拿去退)。Kodak則有自己專屬的充電電池(隨機附帶一顆)和鋰電池;除非加購電池及充電座,否則臨時電力用罄時的替換頗不方便。
  3. 機身用料較好。設計感較佳。Kodak的塑膠感還是稍微重了一點。

DMC-FZ28的強項在

  1. 近年數位相機系列的品牌形象較好
  2. 18x光學變焦,等同486mm的35mm鏡頭焦距。跟數位變焦一起拉到最底可以放到128倍。
  3. 設計感較佳。

但是EasyShare Z1015的3.0" LCD比他們兩家的2.7"大,比DMC-FZ28便宜40美金;相片原圖raw輸出編輯功能是Finepix SD2000HD沒有的。Finepix SD2000HD的錄影收音只有單聲道,而EasyShare Z1015支援立體聲。

 

代禱信一

    邱慕天已經到芝加哥了! (邱慕天代禱信一) 2007/8/7

     

    chicago_08

    各位主內長輩弟兄姊妹平安:

     

    慕天已平安抵達芝加哥。

    8/6下午三點多到達中正機場開始,幾乎整整24小時的時間都花在交通上,於台北時間8/7的下午三點抵達黃雅憫牧師家安頓。

    一路上有許多值得感恩紀念的事情:我們抵達地勤櫃臺的劃位時間晚了,直接就到了網路櫃臺處報到。小姐一邊幫我們辦理行李托運及劃位,一邊才告訴我們走錯了櫃臺而且沒有排隊,只是看到我們的班次較趕,願意先幫我們處理。

    幫我劃位的小姐的熱心還包括,她說今天要出國的旅客特別多,但拜長榮將舊客機汰換為新型號777之賜,可以免費幫我座艙升等。真是「因禍得福」的驚喜!

    在關口和家人道別、作了禱告,媽媽跟我都流下了眼淚,接下來有許多將是我一個人要面對的挑戰。

    「菁英艙」也真是經濟艙難比的舒適,我在和鄰座菲律賓人的談話中輕鬆度過十二個飛航鐘頭,竟不覺起降的晃動和氣壓變化。

    到了西南櫃臺後排了好長的隊。劃位時,我擔心的「行李超重」問題果然發生了:原來國際航空和美國國內線的行李規格限制不同,西南航空又不願比照「國際航空延伸段」收下這些行李。我幾經懇求不奏效,被迫當場拆裝一箱僅超重1.5公斤的行李(另一箱超重5公斤就更不用說了)。幸而我注意到他們允許托運三件行李,我把重量重新分配到登機包之後轉交托運,成功地避免了罰款,感恩的事又一樁!

    起飛五分鐘前準時登機,機上一對的空服員相當搞笑。用機上廣播唱歌、說笑話,用字遣詞十足地美式幽默。在明尼阿波里斯上空時,我們經過了一團thunderstorm,空服員提醒乘客看看窗外的閃電。

    那是在印象中從未看過的景致。特別回顧了一下高中地科:厚重雲層內,濕氣凝結生成冰雹(graupel),在氣流中互相擦撞,聚積了大量帶電離子。

    當一端負極電荷過載,便會以極速通往地面或下端的正電離層,以釋放電子,挾帶強光和攝氏三萬度高熱,這都是一瞬間發生的事。

    詩篇974說:「祂的閃電光照世界,大地看見便震動。」聖經作者常將將閃電喻為上帝權能的象徵,對比的是我在出外後更加顯見自我的渺小。

    下到Midway機場後我的精神還不錯。現在芝加哥這裡是晚上十一點卻是台北的白天。我給答應為我接機的趙約翰牧師打電話,他說等我拿到行李他一下就來。熱心的他在上個月初我們家人第一次造訪這裡時,就親自接機並且提供自己家為住處。而現今又要麻煩他一次,我有點懊悔:自己的時間匆促到沒有好好預備個伴手禮。

    拖了半個小時才拿到行李,碰面時趙牧師也不諱言說他累著,半小時正讓他打了個盹。而現在把我帶到另一位黃雅憫牧師那邊由他送我到學校,實在是因為這幾天他特別忙,接我的隔天,他四點半就要起床!

    我真的在這位牧者的身上看到主內一家的捨己精神。媽媽時常在口頭上教導我「自己有多少,就盡量付出多少」的助人態度。這樣即使沒能完全滿足對方的期待,也足以讓人感受到一份心意。

    而事實上這也早已超出我的期待。我原本還在煩惱如何拖著行李在機場過夜,等待隔天再搭巴士去學校的。

    趙牧師疲累的狀態可以從他開車時輕易地感受出來,而他還堅持我搭了許久的飛機肚子一定餓了,半路轉進「漢堡王」幫我買了飲料食物。

    最後趙牧師在O’Hare機場把我轉交給「芝城華人基督教聯合會北郊分會」的黃雅憫牧師。黃牧師接我到他家(位於學校附近有「三一村」之稱的Vernon Hills)過夜,還幫我預備帶往學校的棉被。洗完澡已經兩點了。當黃牧師進房間拿衣服時我才發現他是把自己的床給我睡-他自己則到孩子的房間打地鋪了。

    我這晚睡得很好,隔天黃牧師又是一早為我做了早餐三明治,因他一早還要忙,用畢早餐後匆匆出門了。我覺得自己實在是過得比想像中還要好太多了。過一會他昨晚約定好的一位菲律賓籍三一博士班新同學Jason前來接我。這天早上之後我們便到了附近的WAL-Mart進行日用品採買,並將我送到學校,一起把行李搬進宿舍。

    將東西擺設完畢後,我只覺得一股倦意襲上腦門,在宿舍當著大白天就睡了起來。起來後是半夜了,撐過這一個晚上,我將有很多事要做,請為我代禱:

  1. 我現在被分派的宿舍不會有空調,而白天從東面迎來陽光顯得非常悶熱。且同棟宿舍有大小之分,這竟是最小的一間(同樣價錢,空間是一些其他房間的一半)。如果可能,我將詢問有無可能移往其他較大、較陰爽的空房間。

  2. 暑假期間在學校覓食較為不易,我也果不其然地在住進宿舍後發現早上的採買還是掛一漏萬了,例如買了罐頭缺發現沒開罐器等等。希望這幾天自己可以儘快適應生活、調回時差、吃得均衡,預備很快就要來臨的入學希臘文測驗。

  3. 「這些事你們既做在我這弟兄中一個最小的身上,就是做在我身上了。」(馬太福音25:40)求主紀念趙約翰牧師、黃雅憫牧師和Jason牧師為他們對小弟兄的付出。他們都是主所按立的牧師,在他們身上有的是僕人事奉的榜樣。為他們事奉得力、一家人出入蒙福來禱告。特別是趙牧師最近有華人牧者聯禱會、黃牧師的家人正不在身邊,而Jason弟兄一家人才到伊利諾這兒安頓三、四天,兒女分別只有五歲、一歲半,為其家人生活上的適應禱告。

  4. 在三一神學院進修的經濟開銷極為龐大。這次能夠順利出國實踐生命呼召的第一步,除了父母之外,許多朋友長輩所給予的支持不在話下。這裡特別感謝的是曾光武牧師及其一家,包括曾祥怡(姊妹)、曾祥恩(弟兄)在知道我有進修神學的意願之時,第一時間所給予的經濟支持。之後更有多位來自曾牧師在雪梨華人教會的會友奉獻支持,包括Janet和其丈夫(一對華人夫婦)、江明書(姊妹,從澳洲來到台灣華神進修,跟我當了一年同學)、美隆(姊妹,亦還在就學,8/8要考醫技方面的執照特考,特別需要主的同在與幫助,並祝福考試結果)。除了在禱告中,願神紀念他們的擺上,相信也是主要給我生命調整和信心的功課:祂透過各樣的方式、藉著不同的人為我預備,使我憑著信心就一無所缺。

  5. 出國以前,因為街頭佈道和一些其他的機會,有在跟一些弟兄嘗試談福音,並試著帶領他信主。基本上我覺得自己傳福音的性質偏軟,都是先從生命問題和其個人觀念疑惑上著手,而要後幾次才會將福音的真義說得深入些。壞處是不容易領人當場決志;好處是往往對方都是第一次談完後主動留下聯絡方式,希望能再多跟我談談那些對他們生命有造就的話語。最近我跟一位大學的同學沈昌煒弟兄開始有較多的福音分享,他也有意相信。(事實上是已經跟進一年多),但隨著我現在出國,分享、尤其是見面變得不容易。我希望能幫他尋求到附近的支援,更盼聖靈親自動工,在他心中能有福音的果子結出。

最後,我想這封代禱信已經拖得太長了。其他想說的話就留待下次說吧。謝謝你們耐心看完!願每個家庭的父親88節快樂,也願各位都在主裡得著滿滿的平安!

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

Thanks for your caring and all the support you have ever provided for me.

The attached file is Mu-tien’s prayer request and some latest news about my trip to Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, IL.

After an almost 24-hour long trip all the way from Taipei, LA, Chicago, this is my 2nd day here. Being and I am safe and sound, immediately I know that I must sit down and write a letter for you, with all my gratitude toward God, for He is so faithful. He unites us as a big spiritual family, so that we can share community in Christ.  

I know some of you may experience difficulty in reading Chinese letter, I am sorry not being able to translate it into English. Next time I will try to develop bilingual version of it.

As there must be always some people I overlooked, -if you are one of them- please forgive my negligence and do not hesitate to let me know; -if that’s not you but you know anyone of them, please do me a favor: forward my greetings and this letter to him/her. And you are also invited to put forth your questions and prayer requests. "Steadfastly in prayer, watching therein with thanksgiving." (Colossians 4:2) I will put them into prayer whenever my eyes are closed and my fingers crossed.

Blessings,

Mu-tien Chiou

「如經上所記:神為愛祂的人所預備的是眼睛未曾看見,耳朵未曾聽見,人心也未曾想到的。」(哥林多前書 2:9

 

慕天(和父母邱文福、林意玲)8/8/2007


[文摘] 昨日的影子

昨日的影子

<今天的他>

他,寫了一篇關於自己信仰的文章,一開始很鉅細靡遺的,以一種近乎律師寫文件般嚴謹、認真的筆法敘述。寫得太長了,被要求改短一點,而後又覺得有些重點沒抓出來,請他再改!

一連三次,他點點頭,不多說一句,然後很快地把文章修好,傳回去。

他,嘴角老是帶著一抹微笑,溝通之後總能達到工作的要求。在忙碌的「空中英語教室」老師群中,這樣的態度並不特殊,卻足以讓每個發現他背景的人,脫口而出一句「真的嗎?」

 

<爭吵的家>

記憶中,他小時候老是在搬家,搬來搬去,朋友好容易才混熟又要分開,離別的焦慮對敏感的他格外難以忍受;踢足球、掏鳥窩…共同做過的事再好玩都沒有用,反正以後不會再見了。

搬家時,他坐在車上,連揮手都不肯。

然後又到另一個陌生的環境,新的家、新的樓梯、新的老師和同學。他低頭坐著,卻用眼睛往上偷瞄,只看見同學好奇的指指點點,被看得多了,他覺得自己真像馬戲團裡的熊──觀賞跟好奇用的。

唯一不會隨搬家而「變成新的」,只有自己的父母,一對老是不願溝通的夫妻。每當他們開始爭執,他就躲在自己的房間裡。不吵的日子便是死寂的沉默,痛苦與不安總是籠罩家中。當然也有快樂的時光,但總逃不開那陰霾。

 

<輕狂年少>

青少年的他越來越不快樂。

那時,他的母親已經到教會,他也跟去,聽了一些聖經故事,說什麼神愛世人──呸!他狠狠跺了跺腳,愛什麼愛,神真的是愛的話,為什麼不好好善待他的家?

但,就算他不贊成神是愛這項說法,又能夠如何呢?

那段時間,他開始和一個女孩交往,對象情緒反覆又善變,不時背著他跟他人胡搞。等他氣得決定分手,她又回過頭來哀求他復合。加上他競選學生會主席及學校報紙總編輯接連受挫,他整個人消沈極了。──怨天尤人、憤怒挫折,他自暴自棄起來了,剛好有一群酗酒、吸毒的朋友邀約他,他自然跟著走了。其實就他看來,這群人可比一般人有趣多了,不會跟你扣大帽子──什麼道德、法律之類的。身上有點錢就買點酒,你一口我一口;也吸毒,擠在小小的地下室裡,煙霧瀰漫的,除了飄飄欲仙外,還有一種找到歸宿的安全感。吸毒的還有幾個女的,幾乎可以任由你做什麼就做什麼…人人都在逃避吧!

和這群「朋友」混得久了,發現他們做的壞事還真不少。除了喝酒吸毒,偷竊和其他違法的事也都來。不是不知道那群人是所謂的「壞人」,內心深處亦有個聲音提醒他說:不要再逃避!不過他們是他的朋友啊──相處起來,沒有挫折,沒有壓力,遠離現實紛擾,只有一個可以把自己深深深深埋進、不用抬起頭的一個夢境。但是自己真的要和他們一起越陷越深嗎?

<笑臉天使>

他先是一個禮拜不去,接下來已開始焦慮。他真需要朋友──就在猶豫之際,一個女孩出現在他面前。她並不特別美,但卻清純無邪。但吸引他的不只這,還有她的笑容──一種穩定、溫柔的笑。和狐群狗黨的那些人混了這麼久,他不禁被她那股乾淨、善良、美好的氣息所吸引。認識她之後,發現她是基督徒──啊!那不就是媽媽以前常帶他去的地方。

就這樣,他跟著去了教會,並且開始用另一個角度去看自己的父母──他們何嚐不願擁有幸福美滿的家呢?但已深陷在被彼此綑綁的牢籠裡的兩人,又那有能力自救?難怪媽媽要到教會。媽媽,還有…爸爸。想到這裡,對他們的恨意竟然遠離,一股暖意緩緩湧上──啊!這是愛的感覺,來自神的愛。

那個女孩並沒有持續留在他生命裡,彷彿平安夜裡報好消息的天使般,她把他從逃避的曠野裡引領出來。把他帶到主耶穌的面前之後,又隨即離去,但她的影響一直留下來。

 

<公園驚遇>

二○○○年,他已經到台灣教幾個月的英語了,敏感憂鬱的特質猶存,想事情還是改不掉邊走路邊自言自語的習慣。那天他走在大安公園裡,思忖著是否要繼續目前的工作。他多希望能有個對象傾聽他啊!那個笑臉女孩是相信神的,他亦不是完全否定,只是他怎能輕易付出信任?萬一「祂」並不是「祂」呢?

「你知道我在想什麼嗎?你大概不存在吧?一定這樣沒錯,你根本沒有在聽我說話。」他才說完,把目光從星光燦爛的夜空移至身旁的電線桿,昏黃燈光下,長椅上有一件東西吸引了他的視線,走近一瞧:竟是聖經。而聖經就是神的話──他十秒之前的詢問,立刻得到回答。

那種震撼是很難描述的。

沒過多久,他進入「空英」,期待自己大眾傳播的背景能結合英語,做更全面的發揮。這個目的他達到了。但更出乎意外的是,在這裡他的信仰得到造就,他不再問有沒有神,而是問如何才能讓自己更認識、經歷更深這位神所給予,他企盼多年的完全之愛。

「有時候我還是習慣的想,哦,這太糟了!」即或成為基督徒,昨日的影子依然存在。「不過,我心裡立刻會有聲音提醒我,凡事有神的美意……」這是他的今日。

生命果真充滿盼望,因為他過去的影子越來越少,嘴角的笑容越來越燦爛。

 

 

 

My Testimony

 

From the beginning

According to my parents, I was an outgoing young child: curious, extroverted, even precocious; fond of impressions and jokes. I laughed a lot. In the eyes of some people, I must have been a pest, but generally I would describe myself as normal and happy. Things changed, however, when I was old enough to attend school. My family moved around a lot, so I was always the class outsider, the stranger, the different one. My playful antics often invited scorn and rejection, from other children as well as the teachers. It was not a happy time, and during my elementary school years I began to undergo a change. I became shy and nervous about being singled out for any unwanted attention. Sometimes I experienced bullies and school violence, which caused me to become quieter and more withdrawn. More often than not I was alone at school, most secure with books and toys rather than the company of others. Then there were troubles at home. My parents began having difficulty managing their money, and other relationship problems, so they quarreled. When they weren’t arguing there was often a gloomy silence, a black cloud of unhappiness and insecurity that seemed to hover over all of us. We had some good times, but the next dark day was never far away.

 

Stormy adolescence

By the time I became a teenager, I was sad, disillusioned, and increasingly angry. I was experiencing a variety of troubles coming into my life, seemingly for no reason. Mum took me to church sometimes, and I learned stories from the Bible. I’d heard the message at an early age: "God loves people." It attracted me, and I enjoyed thinking about God from time to time. But that message didn’t seem to match the world around me. In my world, good people suffered, bad people prospered. I remembered the Bible stories about a loving God who is supposed to care for the downtrodden and the righteous. I thought, "God is letting all this stuff happen?" I wasn’t satisfied. I thought he’d really let us down. It just didn’t make sense. So God and I stayed apart for quite a long time.

Most of my family troubles and school problems continued through junior high and high school, with more intensity. Even some classmates I befriended eventually turned on me. The effect these experiences had on me was not good. The older I became, the more cynical my worldview was. I became aware of so much random suffering all over the world. Life isn’t fair, and there’s little justice for people here on earth. I thought the best thing to do was to look out for myself, rely on myself. I also thought that since God had turned his back on us, I wasn’t under any obligation to be morally good. If I was already rejected by my peers, and given an extra portion of unhappiness in life, what was the point of obedience?

 

 

Thankfully I kept a peaceful, respectful relationship with my parents at this time. They knew little of my whereabouts when I left the house, which was fine with me. For some reason I wanted to hang around people with bad backgrounds and lifestyle habits. Through a blurry chain of events, I came to know binge drinkers, shoplifters, pot smokers, LSD and mushroom eaters, drug dealers, sexual predators, petty break-and-enter burglars, even a few car thieves. Most of these people smoked and drank and took drugs and cursed in every sentence. Many had come from single-parent families, poor neighborhoods. Some had dropped out of school already. They were often confused, angry and directionless; in this regard we had much in common. Our social activities usually involved getting high, prowling for promiscuous girls, or breaking the law. I knew it was wrong, but the sin appealed to me. Perhaps it was my way of taking revenge on the world, though I was only hurting myself and the people around me.

Looking back now, I am amazed that I managed to graduate from high school (1991) and enter university. I certainly could and should have been caught and punished for some of the things I had been doing. My worldview hadn’t improved either. I was very tense, hard for people to understand. By then my life had become me against everyone and everything. I had so many "why?" questions about life, questions with no answers. I started each week with a quiet fear about which problems would come and attack me. Sure enough, some kind of new problem usually did come along. I often wondered about God in the back of my mind, but I still didn’t believe he was interested in me.

 

The refining process; escape and reconciliation

Memories from the 1990s are mixed and muddled in my head, like clothes in a washing machine. Still, at some point, more good things started happening, and the bad things began to decrease. In university I developed my writing skills more, and had some great times working for the student newspaper. I met better friends, and separated from many of the bad, dangerous friends who would have taken me towards more trouble. I earned some money at a few part-time jobs. I did have two great and bitter disappointments, narrowly losing two separate elections for positions at the school newspaper and at the student government. For three years I endured an unhealthy on-again, off-again relationship with a capricious girlfriend. Near the end of our relationship I had debilitating bouts of depression followed by waves of frantic anxiety. During one semi-lucid episode I almost purposely drove into oncoming traffic. Soon afterward, I checked myself into the psychiatric ward at a local hospital, fearing that I might be a danger to myself. But despite all of this, I look back on these years as the time when I began to turn towards the light. Academically, I was successful, graduating near the top of the class. I even went on to have a nice, normal dating relationship with a Christian girl. She helped calm my spirit and turn my thoughts more to the promises of Christianity.

lad to escape my hometown and the string of bad memories. In Taiwan I started to enjoy life more. Finally I wasn’t broke all the time. People treated me with more kindness, respect, and less suspicion. Taiwan was a chance to start a new life, a place where everything could be different. I took a lonely walk in the park one evening, looking to the sky and speaking out loud to God, though I wasn’t sure if anyone was listening. A few steps later I came across a book someone had left on a bench: the Bible. I met my future wife while working as an English teacher. Then I got a job as a writer for Studio Classroom. As a Christian company, they asked me for a statement of faith before hiring me. I wrote them an honest note saying I believed there was a God out there somewhere, but I wasn’t yet settled in my faith. They gave me the job anyway. Less than a year later, I prayed a prayer to become a Christian.

 

Looking in the mirror

It wasn’t easy for me to get off the fence and become a Christian, but all my life experiences brought me to the point where I knew I had to make a choice. Re-reading the Bible stories I’d heard so long ago, I began to receive them in a new way. The truth in the Bible began to make more sense as I considered my life growing up. Many of my experiences matched those of Bible characters. Though I’d gone through lots of bad times, God had somehow worked in my life over the last few years, refining me and preparing me for better things to come. I realized that He cared about me, and had a plan for my life. On my own, I would never learn the answers to all the "why?" questions I had. My mind was tired out, and my spirit was tired out. I was looking forward to the peace I missed for so long. I had to let go of my own attempts to understand the world. I had to let myself believe in something I couldn’t see or prove.

I also realized that I needed the steady guidance and forgiveness of a savior. When I was growing up, I didn’t handle those problem situations as well as I could have. I made too many bad choices, bad thoughts and actions. With faith I would have been more patient and relaxed, with less of a temper. I would not have taken so much of my anger and frustrations out on my younger sister, a mistake that stands out as my life’s biggest regret. I wish I could take my brain out and wash it clean, to forget all the bad stuff I’ve seen and done. It’s not possible alone, but God covers sins and forgives. He helps me be a more gentle, patient, responsible and kind person.

 

God’s gift for all

Today, I can’t say that I understand or believe every single word in the Bible. But when I turn around and see where I’ve come from, I can tell that God has helped me along the way, even when I was estranged from Him. I still have the same ups and downs in life as other people, but these days I am more at peace with the world. I consider myself a saved person, saved from the road that leads to darkness and destruction. His gifts of forgiveness, salvation and guidance are available to all. If you’ve sensed He’s there, that’s half the problem solved already. If you let Him in, and move forward with faith, I’m sure you too will see your life change for the better.

 

~ Gareth