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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

SE2-J Fellowship At The Corniche

"Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity" - Psalms 133:1

Back in August, wilting under the scorching summer sun,  you wouldn't imagine plotting a trip to the Jeddah Corniche and virtually swimming in a pool of sweat as humidity level sees no letting up, let alone getting your epidermis toasted by midday sun. The city is topnotch for its whole year-round notoriety for soaring mercury so people get to experience only a feel of Siberian wind sometime in  Feb or January.

Shunning soaring temperature as such is one thing (even for those gifted with rich melanin deposits), and frolicking into bitingly cold night is quite another. And you see the contrast when people, young people at that (and at heart, wink wink), get to parade their best winter getup amid throngs of black-clad eye-only-popping spectators and their white-gowned counterparts. Hey, they aren't there for no purpose, it's a TGIF night meant for a workers' fellowship of Southeast 2-J!

Normally, Friday worship service at SE2-J concludes at around 2pm, and understandably workers are not in their freshest state notwithstanding the smiles that attempt to cover their glaring eye bags from a previous night's tug-of-war with drooping eyes. (Don't get me wrong folks, Thursday night BS is one of the most exciting  and most anticipated sessions of all midweek services that participants almost have no regard for time except for a little consciousness that fellowships in the  church also have got to adjourn :)

No one would have opted to forgo a needed afternoon slumber to compensate its lack thereof,  but wait till Kuya Sancho declares an invasion of the Corniche at dusk. Instead of seeing one romancing his bed to make the most of what remains in a Friday off, one if not all grapples to find his armor, this time a little bit panicky whether Ephesians 6 would be potent enough for a battle gear. Or what about a newly-bought 5-rial H&M scarf to complement a dream winter outfit most wearable only when gliding through the slopes of Abha or when plowing oneself down through a thick crowd in Batha?

Just the sheer excitement of cruising along the long and winding stretch of Jeddah Corniche on a cold and breezy night already hastened the J flock to assemble in less than an hour, except for Kuya Froilan and Kuya CJ who cannot be absent for a Friday afternoon duty. Okay, let's not exaggerate things. Everyone simply lusted for the wintry breeze by the seashore while wolfing down loads of pizza in various flavors.

Forget about some diet regimen getting breached not to eat heavy at night. Okay, it's not a daily occurrence so let's reward ourselves with some mighty slice and thick-crusted pizza!

And who can resist Kuya George's supposedly brimming hot and gigantic coffee pot in tow? Sadly, the hot coffee sees its life curtailed courtesy of a mercilessly freezing Red Sea breeze, so that we found ourselves conspiring to gulp it down while it still has relevance.  Pizza, coffee and relentless pictorial make up for a rather worthwhile fellowship.

This is what you get when juvenile minds outnumber the venerable. I say minds not age ha ha! And it doesn't get better than that when one fashions out a bottom up stunt - literally- the manager himself that is.  Unarguably, when you are in Christ your outlook in life turns positive, hence the youthful disposition. (Look Mr. Manager, I have come to your defense, so I don't expect any rebuke from you anytime soon ha ha!)

We call it a parade of hidden limbs terrified to get frost-bitten, except for one glaring misadventure of a pair of bare legs. This is a fashion statement gone awry. So what's with the guffaw Kuya Jeff?

Nope, not a beeline raring to harass the piles of pizza that begged to be devoured. Neither a parade as to who sports the best winter outfit or who best projects a friendly smile worthy of an evangelist. Just simply spontaneous. But let's make it a point when wrapping our arms tightly around someone else's neck it is not tantamount to strangulation. What do you think Kuya George?

Street lamp lights glowing against a man-made pool serve as a perfect backdrop for photo junkies. Wait till the lens had flashed and see everyone sprinted up towards the edge, thanks to the suffocating thick pollutants down there.

Seems like constipation or a match up with diarrhea takes its toll on Kuya Nhomer - it's quite unclear - the facial expression ambiguous by all indications - overjoyed or the opposite - as he shows off his exit visa. God has better plans for you Kuya, remember Jeremiah 9:11. We will be seeing you off at the airport. God bless you!

This is the downside when your stick-like frame makes everyone think you can pass for a javelin that you become easy pick for getting flipped around and dumped at sea, more so if you're a consenting victim. But just like Disney 's policy, no one gets hurt in this scene. Ironically, the benefit outweighs the peril of riding a human carousel ride, right Kuya Neil?

Don't mistake him for some school principal or CEO at Ortigas, he'd been there I guess, though much younger than most of us, if there is one I know being used mightily by God, this is the man - the newly-married but soon to be wedded (again?) Pastor Sancho - the jack of all trades in God's vineyard. He is our BS teacher, music mentor, a prophet with an amazing testimony to boot and a laughter-inducing giggle only God knows how he developed it.

If only for some meaningless and youthful escapade, we would have not set out for this activity, but for the glory of God it was an appointed time to have  fellowship with one another. Our pastors had decided that we could make use of the ambience for a workers' open forum as to suggestions how to improve and rectify lapses in the church, from church beautification to proper decorum.

Once the ball started to roll, Kuya Neil had plenty to admonish the photo buffs to shut their lenses once preaching gets underway.  Though some have muttered that the right phrase referred to it for political correctness' sake should be "documenting church activities" and not "taking random pictures"; either way, as everyone concurs, that shutterbugs need to be discreet so as not to create distraction with pulpit proceedings. Kudos to Kuya Neil for bringing that up!

Obviously, his hunger for learning deeper God's Word shows in his input, the zealous Kuya Celso suggests that some workers be assigned tasks to lead Bible studies  in the event that the pastors are tied-up with their hectic schedule - to which the pastors concur that there is time for everything as it is God who determines the time and season. 

Everyone's attention gravitates towards the unassuming Kuya Noli as he takes center stage with his litany of  serious and honest observation of the way some conduct poorly in the church. Seriously, that calls for  some soul-searching as it is difficult to draw a line between engaging in godly humor and "being annoying"(picture-taking included). So confused also that Kuya George shudderingly prays for wisdom, I assume. Or did I say everyone else shivers in cold? :)

Winter is great and all, but oftentimes there's just not enough opportunity to showcase one's fashion savvy. And what opportunity better than this to connive parading in hoodies? By the way, when the manager speaks up everyone has got to listen, right Kuya Josh?

Kids, don't mistake him for  a genie who emerges from the bottle.  He is Kuya Gener, our worship leader who catches everyone's attention with his Omani-like outfit more than what he has to say. Hmm, if my imaginary transcript were to vouch, he sort of says back-up singers are not allowed to use a microphone during praise and worship. And what's with the banning Kuya? Still we don't get it, ha ha!

Open forum adjourns, time to pack things up. I mean our garbage and all. Group pictorial  follows. And it has been hard though to create captions. But not with this one, as obviously Nhomer gets to release something in here - probably a memento (a toxic one?) as he is flying home in a week or so. 

Camaraderie born out of agape love spontaneously develops at church so are talents discovered. When we speak of skills and talents, edibles such as these generate yet another exciting race as to who gets to win best in take-out citation. And in this case, Kuya Neil wins hands down ha ha! (Joke only Kuya!:)

Of course, being deep into the night and we were already a little weary, we decided to call it a day. Soon we were away from the cold night shudder at the Corniche , leaving plenty to reminisce soon down memory lane as we hit off-road and pray for a repeat of the bonding time, hopefully soon. To God be the glory!
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Some of the photos above courtesy of Arnaldo Arnáiz Díaz

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