27. Number one to the end
Before returning to my visit to Sydney in late August 05, let me tell you about a story I read in a book, written by a TV personality. The popular gentleman happens to live in this city on the harbour. He ran, and still does, a popular, weekly chat show. His book was basically a collection of transcripts of his interviews with famous or interesting people.
I seldom buy books on impulse, but I happened to stumble across the book and bought it, because it was 33% off normal price. I carried the paperback on my Newcastle/Sydney trip as reading matter, and discovered a surreal chapter on Page 273.
It was an interview with a (famous) clown named Jean-Paul Bell. His story was about an international group of clowns, who flew into Kabul at the height of the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The clown's name is filled with my code (Je an PL, Au, Be LL), but this in itself did not make me ask questions. The weird script was hard to picture, without my humour-wired brain cells being tickled. A few paragraphs into the (tall) tale, I knew I'd be responding to this most unusual, allegedly true, happening.
(Here is the URL to this interview, aired on June 21, 04:
http://www.abc.net.au/tv/enoughrope/transcripts/s1325404.htm - Just as I am researching for this chapter I noticed that the website transcript of the actual interview is far shorter than the 3 1/2 pages written in the book. Where is the rest?
The show host's introduction to the interview. Certain words just lend itself to have fun with - Fellini (I fell in), Taliban (AT in L good). What about fleet, surreal, altruistic, lots?
The first unlikely fact was the Rome City Council had launched the project, sending 22 clowns from 6 continents to Kabul for a month in 2002. I had always thought that only five continents were inhabited.
(I have since learned that in the US North and South America are regarded as two continents. In Europe, where I was brought up, both Americas are counted as one).
I was amused when I read lines like: “As the plane landed there was a Russian Aeroflot airliner in two pieces in front of us. These 30 Italian soldiers climbed out of the aircraft and 22 clowns, fully made up, were then told to run across the tarmac..." An airliner in two pieces? What two pieces? No word about a crash and the the fuselage breaking in two.
When Bell was questioned on the TV interview, what was the idea with clowns going to Kabul, Jean-Paul Bell, answered: “We figured they’d had a pretty rough time …It was a humanitarian effort, to return the smiles to the faces of Afghani people.”
I perceived so much ‘cock-and-bull’ in what I read (and had paid twenty dollars for) that I wrote a letter to the interviewer/author. I had had fun surrounding his show on a previous occasion, where I had linked the name Noyes, reading it as 'Numbers yes'. At the time I had I followed it up with a phone call to a Blockbuster Video store, while this chat show was broadcast. The attendant who answered was called Ben. (Chapter 47 Mind).
This previous, absolutely outside the box encounter, may have been a further reason, I suspected a kind of test. May I call it a clown act, if you pardon the pun?
In an interesting twist of timing, while writing this chapter I had reason to visit this store for the first time in ages. My wife suggested we watch a DVD on New Years Eve. Another aha-moment followed. For the first time I saw her membership number on the plastic card - 01077.
Ladies in Lavender was unavailable, what a pity. So I hired 'A Good Woman' instead. I mean, the DVD called a good woman. (I better explain it correctly).
I wrote the following letter to the broadcaster of the Chat Show, dated 13/9/05. It was a year and three months after the interview had gone to air. Slightly edited).
In your book …, which I purchased on impulse (I could not resist the $ 10 special discount) I read an interview with Jean Paul Bell, a clown. Why did the media at the time keep this fascinating event a secret?
The Rome City Council ought to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for this classic concept. Has there ever been an attempt at a project with participants from six continents (including Antarctica no doubt) which got off the ground in a Russian Aeroflot airliner?
I went to see Centrelink yesterday. They told me I have to find work. This is why I am writing to you. I could do something, I really would enjoy. Could you forward my address to Jean-Paul Whistle, sorry Bell, or Patch Adams, the real one, and ask him to consider me for the next international-clown-humour-unit-war-zone-engagement?
I had some front-line experience in 2003, right at the beginning of the Iraqi war. On one occasion, just as one Iraira (irate Iraqi) was about to pull the trigger, I came on the scene with my little act, which I performed, as usually, on my knees. Next thing the Iraira bent forward and started laughing. It worked. Instead of blowing-off the head off an American GI, he laughed his own head off.
After a month of this I ended in a field hospital. But I was lucky, my stretcher was right next to that of Jessica Lynch. She kept me busy on my knees and we both recovered really fast. Except, she was made a hero and I became unemployed!
If you ever interview George W. Bush on your show, would you mind mentioning the successes of Jean Paul’s team in Kabul and mine with the Iraira. If his 88 billion budget could spare a few bob, he could engage us to win the war with humour.
The funny sight of the Bell group, 22 clowns, not 30, plus my knee-jerk performance, would win the war within days. Guess, who will have the last laugh?
Centrelink is Australia’s Agency to administer unemployment and other social security benefits. I am still confused as to who is the real Patch Adams? In my second last line I corrected a mistake. In one question the journalist asked Bell: “The Taliban must have been looking on and thinking: “What fresh hell is this? Thirty clowns, what is this, special forces?”
It is obvious my letter was questioning not how many clowns were there, but were there any? Had I made a name for myself for spotting fairy-tales in the media? Was this an act of fight-back by the media that they can spin better tales than I? Was somebody out to prove the average reader will believe anything, simply because it shows up on a screen or is printed in a newspaper or magazine?
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When my brain becomes flooded with codes, I have to scribble things down, otherwise much is forgotten. Here I scribbled onto the Newcastle ferry timetable. (After the information was transferred into my diary I cross it off).
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In the early evening of August 27, 05 I was driving into Australia’s mega-metropolis Sydney to visit my daughter and her partner. I looked forward to spending few days at their place in Dee Why. We only saw her two or three times a year, when she came home for a brief visit.
Listening to the radio on the way into Sydney (it was actually the day before, on 26/8/05) I overheard an item, which immediately registered on my doubtful scale. A primary school was being criticized for allowing the fast food chain McDonalds to place an advertisement outside their school. As soon as I heard it, I knew I'd be emailing this school to hear the full story.
Two weeks later, after turning the pages of my diary and reading about it, I remembered and gave the school a phone call. The lady answering had the same name as my wife's middle name, Lois. She was surprised to receive a call from Adelaide about the incident.
In our short conversation she said the whole story had been blown out of all proportion. McDonald's was a sponsor to the school, but so were a number of other local businesses listed on the same board outside their school. When I found the school's address on the internet - 33 Lisbon Street - L is good - plus their phone number ending in 20111 I knew something was coming. (Read a 210 tale in the next chapter).
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Sturt Reserve, Murray Bridge, South Australia, December 05.
Trust me to spot this:
I took this photo from the window of our bus. The German Welfare Volunteer's Group had just come off a ferry boat after a great lunch cruise on the River Murray. We had boarded the bus to travel back to Adelaide, an hour away.
What did I see in the photo? Originally the three people on the left drew my attention. They were displaying my colours - the white/red and khaki of this e-book's index page.
After picking up the photo from development I noticed, the three men on the right were also wearing the same colour combination.
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As much as I looked forward and tried to keep harmony, it didn’t take long for Mitch and I to clash. Since she was a young child, sadly, our relationship had been dominated by tension. As I look back to explore a reason for this, I view it as both, a result of a different culture and a different personality, plus, of course, the generation gap.
I had hopes and dreams to come closer and become a friend, without much success. In my younger years I did not have the same wisdom as I have know (not that I boast about any now).
Michelle certainly was my wife’s best friend. I often felt a degree of jealousy, seeing how close they were. I was the parent, who applied stricter standards than my wife did. She was brought up differently. Her gently, phlegmatic personality suffered much from the conflict that was going on between Mitch and I.
In family dynamics, such as ours, it is east to guess, which parent the children will gravitate toward and form a close friendship with. I was not the one, unfortunately.
If the softer parent (mostly the mother) does not realize this, and skillfully supports the other, who plays the disciplining role, the children will be lose respect. This is my simple explanation, why I think I have struggled to find acceptance by all of my children, not just Mitch..
In recent years, my perceived illness, my strange world of codes and observations, also contributed to the lack of respect I wished my family would show. I am not complaining, rather analyzing. Basically I am very thankful that my children didn’t seriously rebel, went on drugs or lived wild lives. They could have turned out far worse.
On the Sunday of my first day in Sydney Michelle and I clashed seriously. It started after I expressed a desire to attend church. (Her partner had to work). She found it hard to understand, why I wouldn’t be willing to miss church, just this one Sunday, possibly regarding me as a fanatic. True, this was one appointment in Sydney I didn't want to miss, especially since the date was 28/8 (as in Romans Chapter 8, Verse 28).
Michelle had initially agreed to attend church with me, but decided against it after our hefty argument.
(As I write our daughter is here with us on holidays – so far we have done well to not …) I am keeping the office door closed, just in case she sees her name on the screen. It may trigger a tsunami…)
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Two pieces of interesting literature:
Front: A handout by the LTM (Lutheran Tract Mission): The Good Life for you. I picked this up while working at the Jesus Stand at the Royal Show in September 05. The more I looked, the more I saw.
The letters of the car registration plate VCJ are obvious. The number 560 had a German history and/or connection . During a November 2002 Germany visit, I had experienced an incredible co-incidence, seeing vehicle rego E-AU 560. At the same time I remembered the rego number of a person I knew 35 years earlier ES-AU 560.
The sail of the boat shows the number K 26. Unless it is just a fluke, I can see the letter e and a 5, on the other sail, which could refer to ES.
The house may hold a clue, or should I say the windows. Are there 4 plus 2 windows or 5 plus 1? Either option makes sense.
Back: I happen to see the biography by Raelene Boyle, the Olympic Silver Medal Winner of Munich 72. It was on sale at a discount store. Raelene Boyle was the one I had had an emotional encounter with on 31/3/03, just before catching a plane to LA. (Chapter 64, Sand).
The book had a manufacturer's fault. Pages 55-60 were folded back and cut wrongly. At $ 6.99 it was still a bargain.
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The style of worship at the Hillsong Church in Castle Hill was similar to what I had known from attending the congregation in Paradise, Adelaide's largest Pentecostal Church. Therefore I did not let the noise level distract me from exchanging thoughts with God that morning. I had learned to look beyond the flashing lights and the bombastic multi-media presentations.
Church takes place in the heart of worshippers, as they exchange their innermost, intimate thoughts with God and themselves as honest and transparent as possible. Sadly, it can be true - the more outward show, the less inward look, the less intimacy, the less transparency. God only considers the heart of worshippers, not their performance.
Prayer is like that. In a booklet on prayer the Reverend Gordon Moyes of Sydney's Wesley Missions quotes John Bunyan in his booklet on prayer - In Prayer it is better to have a heart without words, than words without a heart.
As mentioned in an earlier chapter, I sat down toward the centre, about half-way back, for no particular reason. Later as I looked I noticed I had chosen seat No. 53. A little while later, as the service was about to start, a lady ahead of me sat down, wearing a T-shirt – ALL STAR.
The preacher that morning was from Hillsong's sister congregation in Waterloo. I felt spoken to by his message, which my diary titled “Allow yourself to be recognized”.
During his talk, among the many scriptures the preacher quoted, I heard him say: "We read in Luke, Chapter 24, Verse 38 ..." Unless I was mistaken, he actually read out Verse 33 of this chapter. What somebody else would barely notice, let alone make a fuss about, bothered me. It may have been that there were 5 Verses difference, or the number 38, which had featured in my website? Could it be a test of some kind?
With this thought in mind I purchased a recording of the message in the foyer. Driving in the car later I listened to the tape to check, if I was correct in spotting a mistake. It was no to be. As if somebody wanted to proof that Murphy's Law really exists, the vital passage was missing from the tape. The missing sentence was at the place, where the operator had to turn the 45-minute tape over to continue on the other side.
(To this day I do not know, if I picked up correctly or was hearing things. My email to Hillsong later was not answered, unless I deleted it in error).
First time visitors to the church were invited to the upstairs refreshment area for a free coffee. The pastry and coffee were delicious. I sat with a young couple. The young man was a volunteer, driving the free shuttle-bus between the city the Church. He was friends with a young lady (Danieli) from Brazil.
At the time it did not occur to me, but the fact that I had chosen to sit next to the voluntary bus driver, which I had done myself for a time, made me later think: Do these people know me? A slim, young lady served coffee and answered any question about the church. She also was dark-skinned and very friendly. Her name tag read SABA. Later that afternoon I would again be coming across this name (next chapter).
I was unsure, if anybody knew about me, my visit or my unusual story I had written online. Is this was so, nobody verbalized anything. Instead, as usual, the message that indeed I had chosen the right seat to sit at came via, you guessed it, a car registration plate in the parking lot. Right across from where my Suzuki was parked I read the plate …53M.
Right beside me a man was standing beside his vehicle. He seemed to be having trouble starting his car, a Ute, which ran on LPG fuel. I asked, if he was OK? He assured me, it would be OK. His car only needed a few moments and it would start.
(Many vehicles in Australia run both on petrol, called gas in the US, but also on gas, or LPG, liquid petroleum gas – Aha, as I wrote the letters LPG – I am convinced it was not all co-incident. Remember, the German word for speak is sag! Late news out of the Ukraine report problems with fixing a price for gas supplies from Russia).
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Left: Petrol ticket - I filled up on the way to Hillsong church on 28/8. I loved Riverside No.1, plus the phone number's starts in 94 and ends in 91.
Psalm 94 was the one, which launched my mission on a day I will never forget - Anzac Day 99.
Right: I cannot recall, why I picked up this bank withdrawal slip from off the pavement in Newcastle. As I write and look closer I see two 7 codes - one is inside 963.
Aha, now I see something else - was there a message in AVAIL BAL? I wished my avail bal would look this healthy.
After my Newcastle trip, I became aware that Australia's National Day is celebrated every year on 1/26 or January 26th. Link, link!
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I had no fixed plans for the afternoon in Sydney. Isobel has four brothers, who live in Sydney. I felt it would be impolite to not see them (which was the case with one of them, sorry Jim). I hadn’t written down any addresses, but I knew roughly were they lived. Michelle had indicated she didn’t want to visit any relatives with me. This had been part of our earlier disagreement.
What unfolded after leaving Hillsong Church, on the way to visiting my relatives, was nothing short of miraculous. I have no explanation why I saw, what I saw and where my brain was guiding me to. Either I had locked myself into a kind of madness, which was getting worse when I'm on the road, or there was a reason for it all.
If it was not God's Spirit inside me, leading me according to another verse in Romans, (Verse 14 - As many as are guided by the Spirit of God, they are the Sons of God) what was it? Certainly nothing of which I am ashamed of, or which did any harm to other people. The third notion that it was all co-incident, I eliminated long ago.
One of Isobel’s brothers lived in Sydney's North-West. I headed down Windsor Road, hoping to find my way to my brother-in-law's house in Eastwood. Driving past a McDonalds store I saw a man riding a gopher, the common term used for electric wheelchairs, on the footpath.
In a sudden flashback I remembered taking a photo not far from Adelaide's Glenside Mental Hospital. A man riding a gopher had been killed on that spot. In the untold story in my diary, I went to the scene a few days later and took a photo. When I noticed that the spot was right across the road from the 'Save the Children' Headquarters, my mind had stirred and asked questions.
This thought made me put on my left indicators and turn off Windsor Road. Plus I had seen a sign outside McDonalds 'CAJUN Nuggets", which I ended up buying for lunch. I parked the Suzuki in a small, local shopping centre. As I switched off the engine I looked up and saw that I had parked at a business called ‘You are M – on (the) cross’. Another name, Karin (in car), fitted perfectly into my weird world of coded words.
A seat under a large, shady tree was the perfect place to eat the Cajun nuggets I had bought and to update my diary. Sydney’s weather was superb, just as I remembered it from the time I had lived there. (We won't mention the 44 Degrees (Centigrade) Sydney experienced two days ago, on the first day 2006).
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Flashback - Brisbane March 2004
In Book 2 Mind, Chapter 23, I reported about the various trips I took with the supporter's group of Adelaide United football team. At the time believed God was leading me, but not to the same degree of certainty as today, almost 2 years later.
I took above photo on a trip to Brisbane, after walking around the city and Botanical Gardens.
Two things need mentioning: One, the three seemingly insignificant letters END on the far left. At the time they did not stand out. How times have changed!
Two, Chapter 23 of Book 2 (Mind) tells the story of above Brisbane trip. It concludes with a statement about riches: I’d rather have Jesus than silver and gold, I'd rather have Jesus than riches untold., I'd rather have Jesus than anything, the whole world can only offer.
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(Back to Sydney)
While in the vicinity of Eastwood, before visiting Isobel's brother, I decided to pay a quick visit to a Baptist Bible College near Paramatta. Two days earlier I had driven past a sign Open Day Sat 27 August. At the time I had felt to check it out. On my first USA visit in 03 I had been led to a Baptist College at Riverside, California.
The street name of the Sydney Baptist Bible College, MASON DR, also played a role in my decision to return for a closer look. As soon as I entered the property, driving down the long driveway, I knew my signals from my unseen friend were correct. Parked alongside the open space of the sports grounds was a vehicle, registration plate…19.
A small bus pulled in carrying another infamous registration plate, this time ...91. It could hardly have been co-incidental. The Open Day had of course finished, but I still felt I came to the right place.
I parked my vehicle and walked toward the front door of the chapel. A lady approached me and started talking in a friendly manner, as if she had known me for years. She introduced me to a bystander, who had exited from the small bus: "This is Russell, he is our bursar...”
I didn’t know what to say, or what on earth I was here for. To ask an intelligent question, I said I had been to Hillsong church. What did Baptists generally think of this church? I can’t remember the brief conversation, which followed. Nothing negative was said, however.
As I was leaving a young man walked by. Before he entered the old stone chapel, where obviously a service was about to start, I saw three large letters printed on the front of his red sports top – USA. Now it made sense, why the bursar had said to me before we parted: “We are here all week”. My diary clearly says that I thought it all was a message: We are willing and able to help you go to the USA. (Despite not acting on this offer, I really appreciated the ...)
The name Mason had played a significant role during my second USA trip. It had come up during a peculiar incident on a bus I was traveling in. The location was Louisiana, on the Gulf of Mexico. Ironically, a day after my visit to the Mason Drive Bible College, the region was hit by the worst natural disaster ever to hit the USA.
Another clue came to me just after exiting, while turning from Mason Drive onto ...
(As I checked Google, just now, for the name of the Main Road nearby [Pennant Hills Road] I noticed something peculiar. Had I continued straight on Mason Drive I would have entered Glencoe Avenue. The picture of the sign I took the day before, early in the morning had an arrow pointing to Glencoe - Chapter 24. Parallel to it runs Gollan Ave ... Was this a clue?
The proper name of the Bible College is Redeemer Bible College! Did I have some fans, who were a step ahead of me?
If you are suffering from overload after reading this, another totally outside the box thought came as I exited from Mason Drive onto Pennant Hills Road. I spotted a utility (pick-up truck) with a company logo on the door - OTIS. My mind had barely absorbed the possibility of calling on Russell during the week and perhaps explore any options of ... when the thought about those four letters crystallized.
IS could be the abbreviation for Isobel. OT contains a T, a cross, a sacrifice! If this was a hint about leaving my wife, it certainly was more civilized than just sending a truck with Ditch Witch written on it, as had happened the day before.
But the letters O.T.I.S may have had a further, easier to explain meaning. The company, as I understood it, without googling, is synonymous with lifts or elevators. Was this passing vehicle meant to suggest that by leaving my wife, I would be able to be elevated, reach another level in my journey?
Or was the driver just on the way to an emergency – a person needed assistance in a broken down lift? I may never know. What I do know is that God will take care of wherever he wants me, whenever he wants me. I had come here, traveling the Highway of Trust. He was not likely to lead me astray now.
Before continuing about my travels on August 28th in Chapter 28, my thoughts are on the latest news here in Australia. A plane had crashed on 2/1/06, killing 5 skydivers, 3 from overseas. Two people survived the crash near Ipswich, just west of Brisbane. Today's report mentioned that the engine was similar to the airplane, which crashed into the sea off Whyalla, killing all eight people on board. Two engines had failed on that fateful May day in 2000.
My clinging to number 315 as one of the special ones I use, partly stemmed from the fact that 315 was the date of the Whyalla plane crash - 31/5/00.
Those who have followed my journey will know that PLUS 1 has been an early code, which had developed. 315 + 1 = 316. The date of writing is 3.1.06.
I woke very early this morning and briefly looked at the clock radio. It was far too early to consider rising. When I looked a second time, the clock showed 5.51. I got up. There was work to be done.
For God so loved the world, He gave ... LV (55) 1. God is Love, HE is No.1.