Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Transition

Finally. It is over. 

It's the transition now. 

I've graduated from Year 12, from VCASS. I've actually made it through these two crazy, hectic, memorable, challenging years! I am so thankful to God. For all the times I had to lean on His strength and find the passion to continue. For all the times I failed big time and made the wrong decisions. For all the times He saved my skin and helped me keep going and trusting! 

I have always looked at my future in VCASS and wondered if I'll make it through. And of course, by the grace of God, I did! 

As I reflect on the year, I realized it has been the best year of my life! It has been so, so, so good. I thank God again and again for giving me all the opportunities I had! The highlights are finally having muso friends who understand me and I understand them. We share the same passion and drive. We love life and we love hanging out (only after we've done substantial practice ofcourse...). Haha what more can I ask for? 

I also LOVED playing in the piano trio with Troy and Justine. One of the best experiences I've had doing music. The most amazing thing is playing with other people who are also passionate about the music, and who feel the same thing you do! It is the best feeling ever. I love it, and I thank God for answering my prayer. 

How far I've come! The first time I performed in VCASS, I had a terrible memory lapse. I wasn't nervous, but I wasn't used to performing in that kind of a focused environment either. But with God's help, how far I've come in two years! There is nothing to boast. Only a heart filled with thankfulness because I know I've not done it by my own strength. I can testify that God has answered my prayers. The prayers I prayed when there seemed no way out of Malaysia; when there seemed no hope that I would be able to pursue music, much less perform it for others, even much less get into an arts school in Melbourne! 

It is amazing. I remember also praying that I'll get the chance to compose. At the time I was limited. I was homeschooled, I've never performed before, I've never composed a single ensemble piece apart from my simplistic piano compositions. This year God answered my prayer some more! I got to perform my composition in the year-end compositions concert and I finally have the avenue and opportunities to perform and share my music. 

It is amazing, not because I am, but because God is! 

Sometimes I wonder, am I just kidding myself? Isn't all this just my own hard work and effort? I have plenty of friends who don't seem to be praying but seem to still be doing better than I am. It doesn't make sense! And it is a hard thing to write about or rationalize in the context of my faith. But I choose to believe God, and trust, and keep on believing. I know that He's helped me.       

God has been faithful to our family too. The days when we had no money to pay the rent, the money would come in, the exact amount, through people who really have no reason to bless us. Through all this, we know that if we keep following Jesus and holding on to this hope, God will provide for us. It does not mean at all that we sit around and wait for heaven to come. Dad has had to work hard and he's had to do all kinds of jobs. We had to adjust. I had to practice. We all have to do what we have to do. What is beyond us, God can and will do. But we must still do our part. Without God, there is no story. Without us, we are part of no story. 

Dad says, it's always 100% God AND 100% man. 

I haven't worked very hard at all this year. I haven't been disciplined many times. But I'm thankful I made it through. Year 12 isn't a big thing, studies isn't a big thing. I want to do well, but at the same time, I will not forget God in a bid to do well in the things of this world. Never forget that, Janielle. God is your source, God is your strength. If you forget Him, you may gain the whole world - but what's the point if you lose your own soul? 

Now I'm on holiday. I feel free. I'm gonna bury myself in books - autobiographies and Lord of the Rings and Christian literature! Woohoo :D I am determined to spend my holidays fruitfully. I need to spend time with my family. I'm gonna catch up with individuals. I'm gonna read heaps and prepare for next year. I'm gonna practice and also pick up some jazz. I'm gonna aim to acquire more music students for 2012! 

Because I'm trying to be disciplined and focused and fruitful these holidays (3 months!!!), I decided to give up my phone (which is a major source of distraction) and use Janna's terribly old brick phone. Haha man, the good old days when there was no Facebook (I still use it though), no qwerty keys or touch screens, no Youtube or internet access on the phone. So much less distraction! 

I need to write more. I need to think more and reflect and pray. I forget and I am lazy to do these things. But they are essential to my soul! God, I need you! Let me not live my ignorant life and enjoy myself. Let me not be disinterested in other people's needs. Let me not be so self-absorbed that I see no one else. Open my eyes. Help me to live my life right and use my time wisely. Thank You God for this incredible year. Thank You for dad and mum. Thank You for bringing our whole family here. Thank You for VCASS. Thank You for music. Thank You for blessing me with like-minded friends and driven peers. Thank You for being with me every step of the way. Thank You God. 

‘Anthrax isn’t scary at all compared to this’: Man-made flu virus with potential to wipe out many millions if it ever escaped is created in research lab

“For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences and earthquakes, in divers places.”
—Matthew 24:7
A group of scientists is pushing to publish research about how they created a man-made flu virus that could potentially wipe out civilisation. The deadly virus is a genetically tweaked version of the H5N1 bird flu strain, but is far more infectious and could pass easily between millions of people at a time. The research has caused a storm of controversy and divided scientists, with some saying it should never have been carried out.

The current strain of H5N1 has only killed 500 people and is not contagious enough to cause a global pandemic.
But their are fears the modified virus is so dangerous it could be used for bio-warfare, if it falls into the wrong hands.
Virologist Ron Fouchier of the Erasmus Medical Centre in the Netherlands lead a team of scientists who discovered that a mere five mutations to the avian virus was sufficient to make it spread far more easily.
He conducted his tests on ferrets as the animals have become a model of choice for influenza and have similar respiratory tracts to humans.
Fouchier is so prepared for a media storm that he has hired an advisor to help him work on a communication strategy.
The research done was part of an international drive to understand H5N1 more fully.
Fouchier admitted the strain is ‘one of the most dangerous viruses you can make’ but is still adamant he wants to publish a paper describing how it was done. The study is one of two which has caused serious debate about scientific freedom and about regulating research which might have potential public health benefits but at the same time could also be useful for bio-terrorism.

The other paper, also on H5N1, was done by a joint team at the University of Wisconsin and the University of Tokyo. It is understood to have had comparable results to the study done by Fouchier. Both papers are now being reviewed by the U.S National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB).

NSABB does not have the power to prevent the publication but it could ask journals not to publish.
Paul Keim, chairman of NSABB, said: ‘I can’t think of another pathogenic organism that is as scary as this one. I don’t think anthrax is scary at all compared to this.’ Traditionally scientific research has always been open so that fellow scientists can review the work of others and repeat their methods to try and learn from them.
But numerous scientists have said they believe research on the avian flu should be suppressed.
However bio-defense and flu expert Michael Osterholm, who is director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of innesota, said the work carried out was important medically.
He added he could not discuss the papers because he was a member of NSABB but said if they were published certain information could be withheld and made available to those who really need to know.
‘We don’t want to give bad guys a road map on how to make bad bugs really bad,’ he said.

Source: www.inthedays.com

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