Sgoil an Adhair Gàidhlig!

Thuirt Bòrd na Gàidhlig anns a’ Mhàirt gun tòisich iad “sgoil brìgheil Gàidhlig”. ‘S e “E-Sgoil” an t-ainm a bhios ann agus ‘s e ceangal eadar àrdsgoilean tromh meadhan Gàidhlig a bhios ann. Tha iad an dòchas gun toir an E-Sgoil mòtha cùspairean dhan àirdsgoilean Gàidhlig agus gun toir tìdsearan na leasanan tromh meadhan nan E-Sgoil cuideachd.

Tha mise a’ smaoineachadh gu bheil an naidheachd sin glè inntinneach. ‘S e Astràilianach a th’ annam agus tha an Sgoil an Adhair againn bho cheann 1951. A dh’ innse na fìrinn, ‘s e sgoilear nan Sgoil an Adhair a th’ annamsa!

Eadar Clàs 8 agus Clàs 11 dh’ionnsaich mi tromh meadhan fuaim-fada agus inneal-sgrìobhadh*. Bha mo thìdsearan ann an sgoil-oifis ann an Àdalaidh agus bha mise (agus na daoine eile anns mo clàsaichean) aig na taighean anns a’ dhùthaich no anns a’ Bhùis**. Bha daoine eile ann cuid de mo clàsaichean ann bàiltean glè bheag, agus dh’fhaod iad mòtha cùspairean a ionnsaich – chan eil tìdsearan fìor-eòlaiche anns na bàiltean beag.

Agus, ‘n uair a bha mi airson Gàidhlig a ionnsach, dh’ionnsaich mi tromh “sgoil brìgheil” cuideachd – rinn mi an Cùrsa Inntrigidh, an cùrsa air astar ri Sabhal Mòr Ostaig.

Tha mi air mo dhòigh gum bi Sgoil an Adhair Gàidhlig ann anns an Alba. Tha an Sgoil an Adhair glè chudthromach dhomh – faisgdlùth cho chudthromach ris a’ Gàidhlig-fhèin!

Ach tha mi boilisgeach – carson nach bhi “Sgoil-D” a th’ air?

*‘s e “coimpiutair” a th’ ann “inneal-sgrìobhadh” agus “telefòn” a th’ ann “fuaim-fada” anns a’ Ghàidhlig Albannach

**‘s e an dùthaich anns a’ mheadhan Astràilia far nach eil mòran daoine a th’ anns a’ Bhùis

Pentecost & God’s Mission

This last weekend, Christians of many traditions from all over the world celebrated Pentecost, “the birthday of the church”. Many Christians see the day of Pentecost as the beginning of the Christian Church as we know it, the day the Holy Spirit came down and stirred the disciples up to street-preaching, converting thousands.

Like so many things, the events of Pentecost are best understood against the backdrop of history and context. So how far back do we need to go to understand the events of Pentecost and the mission God has for us to fill?

Well, let’s start at the very beginning. (A very good place to start). In Genesis 1, God creates the world, and then He creates us.

“‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness: let them have dominion over [every other living thing on earth]. So God created man in His own image […] then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.” (Genesis 1:26-28, NKJV, paraphrased)

From this passage, we can learn several things, of which two are:

(1) Human beings are created in the image of God

(2) Human beings, the image-bearers, are to fill the earth

Unfortunately, just a chapter or two later, we human begins messed it up; we sinned, our close relationship with God was tainted, and the image of Him which we carried was distorted. Sin was rife; one brother killed another, and wickedness abounded, and God was so grieved about it all that he came very close to wiping it all out and starting with a clean slate.

You know what happened instead. But we find something very interesting at the beginning of Genesis 9:

“God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and the fear of you [shall be on every other living thing on earth]’.” (Genesis 9:1-2, NKJV, paraphrased)

Sound familiar? Even though we had messed up, God’s mission for us remained the same: “You are My image bearers: fill the earth with My image.”

But we have a habit of messing up. Many churches who follow the liturgy read another passage from Genesis on Pentecost: Chapter 11:1-9. This is the story of the Tower of Babel.

There are many things to comment on about that incident, but in the context of this story of God’s mission for man, there is one which I want to draw out. Proper to Genesis 11, God’s dealings with humans were on a ‘God-to-mankind’ basis: we were all one sort of homogenous lump. After Genesis 11, and the establishment of different people groups, ethnicities, and languages, God got specific.

In Genesis 12, God speaks to mankind again, and reiterates his mission again. Or, rather, I should say, God speaks to a man.

The Lord said to Abram: […] I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing […] in you, all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1-3, NKJV, paraphrased)

God’s mission hasn’t changed. His mission is still that His image will be spread to the ends of the earth. But His method has changed. No longer does He speak to all the humans as a whole; He has chosen a single nation to show Himself to the world.

Of course, the nation had to cook for a couple of hundred years first, before it became clear exactly how He would go about blessing the entire world through this one nation. In Exodus, He brings His people, now numerous, out of Egypt and gives them an identity of their own. In Exodus 12, we see them leave, and Passover (Pesach) is instituted. About fifty days later, in Exodus 19-31, God gives them His Law.

Okay, they mess it up almost before He had finished giving it, and Moses had to write it out again, and then God says:

“‘Behold, I make a covenant. Before all your people, I will do marvels such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation; and all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the Lord, for it is an awesome thing that I will do with you’.” (Exodus 34:10, NKJV)

What had God told Abra(ha)m? “In you, I will bless everyone on earth”. Now, he’s telling the Israelites, “With you, I will show myself to everyone on earth.”

The people then launch into a God’s-house-building frenzy, and in Exodus 40:34-38, we see the glory of God filling the tabernacle, cloud by day and fire by night, and staying with the Israelites for the rest of their journeys. It’s a visible, dramatic sign to the world, “The God of Israel is real. God is with us.”

And there’s another feast Jews celebrate to this day based on this event: Sukkot (Tabernacles), when they build a little tabernacle and remember when God’s glory came down to live with them.

So God has chosen His people, and He’s said that He’s going to use them to show himself to the world. How, exactly? Moses answers this question for us, immediately before the Israelites entered the Promised Land to set up their great nation:

Be careful to observe [God’s statues and commandments], for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the people who will hear all these statutes, and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ For what great nation is there that has a God so near to it, as the Lord our God is to us, for whatever reason we may call upon Him? And what great nation is there that has such statutes and righteous judgements as are in all this law which I set before you this day?” (Deuteronomy 4:6-8, NKJV)

Israel’s job was, by following God’s Law, to be blessed by Him so that everyone on earth would be able to look at them and go, “Wow! Look at them! Surely their God must be real, look at what He’s done for them and how righteous their society is.”

Unfortunately, Israel, as we know, didn’t do such a great job at that. In fact, the closest they ever came was during the reign of Solomon.

Incidentally, during this period was what God’s glory, which had been living in the tabernacle at Bet-El, moved into the Temple at Jerusalem, which Solomon built, and Jerusalem, ruled over by Solomon who had been encouraged on several occasion by God to be righteous, started attracting the attention of the rest of the world.

In 1 Kings 10, we read the details of one particularly visit to Jerusalem, in which the Queen of Sheba says, “I did not believe [the report about your land and your wisdom] until I came and saw with my own eyes; and indeed the half was not told me! […] Blessed be the Lord your God, who delighted in you, setting you on the throne of Israel!” (1 Kings 10:7-9, NKJV, abridged)

Here we see God’s plan for Israel in action: Follow God’s Law, be blessed by God, and show His image to everyone so that they might believe.

I don’t need to say once again that this didn’t continue for very long. In fact, Solomon’s son only lasted three days before the kingdom split in two, and about four hundred years of mostly unrighteous kings and degradation later, Israel went into exile and God’s glory left the Temple (see Ezekiel 10 for details).

In fact, things got so bad that God didn’t even talk to His people for about four hundred years.

Enter Jesus, “God in flesh”. Of course, a book could be written – and many, many books have been written – about exactly what Jesus accomplished on Earth, but I’m going to skip forwards to the end of His time down here with us, when he said two things.

The first, found at the end of Matthew, is this:

Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

God’s mission hasn’t changed one bit, but his method has. No longer is the method “come and see”, it’s “go and show”. Consider this: the plan for Israel was that, by following God’s commands, they would be able to show His image to the world.

In Jesus, we have seen the image of God; in fact, we’ve seen God, but with one crucial difference: God in human form, an utterly righteous human being, connected to God. The work of a disciple is to become like the discipler; the work of the Disciples was to strive towards the image of God himself… and then to go out, make disciples of their own, to pass on the image of God.

In order to do fulfill this mission, they were equipped, just as the Israelites were back in Exodus 40, with God’s power. As Jesus himself said, immediately before ascending into heaven,

You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to me in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8, NKJV)

We see this fulfilled a week later, in the next chapter – the Day of Pentecost, the fifty days after Passover (see Leviticus 23 for details) – the Feast of Tabernacles, the anniversary of when God came down and His glory stayed in the camp, among the people.

And exactly the same thing happened again.

Then the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.” (Exodus 40:34)

They were all with one accord in one place, and suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.” (Acts 2:1-2)

What were the Israelites to do, now they had the glory of the Lord in their midst? They were to stand as a sign to the whole world, showing every other people and language group that their God was real.

So what were the Disciples to do, now they had the glory of the Lord on them? They were to go out into the whole world, showing every other people and language group that their God was real.

We, the bearers of the image of God, are to carry His Spirit out into all the world, showing everyone our relationship with God, making them disciples – sharing the image with them – showing them how to love and obey God.

In six thousand years, God’s plan for us hasn’t changed. We are still His people, His image-bearers, tasked to live in a loving relationship with Him and to fill the earth with His image.

Some (Mis)Adventures with Korean

This is written partially in response to a challenge issued by Loving Language about telling our language stories. It was also inspired by his most recent post regarding language preconceptions (the first anecdote, anyway).

Before I begin, it is important to note that I am not Korean. My ancestry comes entirely from north-western Europe, and I do not – in any way, shape or form – resemble a Korean person.


When I was about twelve, my family went to South Korea for my uncle’s (wi sukbu) wedding. Most of my mother’s extended family was there, and one night, we went out to dinner with the soon-to-be-in-laws – Uncles First to Third Brother and their wives and children.

After dinner, the children left the hotel’s dining room to sit and play in the lounging area. We had a range of ages, but for the most part we all had “doubles”, new cousins of our age and gender. One of the pairs were two little girls of about three, my cousin (imo’s daughter), who – as is crucial to the story – was adopted from China.

At one point in the evening, Hyon-Ji wandered away from where she and Peng-Peng were playing near the wall of glass which passed as a window in the hotel. I can’t remember what for – perhaps to talk to one of her sisters – but we definitely had clear view of both of them.

While Peng-Peng was by the window, ostensibly by herself to any onlookers, a Korean woman came up to her and started addressing her in Korean – I presume to ask where her parents were. Peng-Peng just looked back at her in confusion.

Sensing a situation, I went over to try to do something about it. Unfortunately, Peng-Peng and I do not look like we’re related.

“She is Korean.”

“No, Australian. Hoju. My sa-chon.”

“She look Korean.”

“She’s from China originally. Jungguk. She’s Australian, though.”


“Yes, hoju. She’s my sa-chon.”

The thing is, Peng-Peng doesn’t – and didn’t – look Korean, either. But I suppose she didn’t look like she belonged with all the white Australians in the room, especially given she had been playing with a quite obviously Korean girl.


About a year later, I had started high school back in Australia and International Day was swiftly approaching – the day when the student body (hailing for more than sixty countries) got together with other people from that country in order to represent that country in a big festival on the oval.

At that point, with my weeks in Korea fresh in my memory, I talked about it a lot with my friends – one from China, one Chinese-Australian, one Vietnamese-Australian, one Indian-Australian, one French-Australian, and me, whatever I am. For the purposes of several discussions we’d had about westerners being unable to tell different nationalities of Asian apart, westerners being unable to use chopsticks, and my strange obsession with bulgogi, let’s just say I’d played up the “Korean relatives” thing a bit.

Anyway, in home group, discussion about going along to country meetings and representing countries reigned supreme. It turned out that we had a Korean in the class – one of the boys to whom I’d never payed much attention.

“I’m not actually Korean,” he pointed out, “But my parents are from Korea.”

“That’s Korean enough to go to the meeting,” Thuy-Anh informed him. “I’m going to the Vietnam one. Rachel’s Korean.”

The boy – Andrew or Anthony or something – was rightfully confused about that statement. “No, she’s not. She’s Australian.”

“Yes, she is,” another of my friends insisted. “Her family’s Korean.”

“Actually,” I pointed out – and it should have been just as obvious as Albert thought it was – “I’m not Korean. I just have Korean relatives.”

As it turned out, I went along to the Great Britain meeting and ended up dressing in tartan on the day.


Several years passed, and for some reason, I didn’t lose what little Korean I’d managed to gain in the lessons my family had taken before we’d visited. If you’re going to learn a second language, I don’t recommend you start with something as different to your own as English and Korean, because I was eleven, it was the first language I’d seriously tried to learn, and I didn’t learn much.

I know as much Korean today as I did when I visited Korea – which means I can read the alphabet and know a handful of phrases. Some of my sister’s friends took advantage of this a couple of times, writing down things in Korean and getting me to read them out before collapsing into giggles – they knew full well that I was just reading the sounds without any comprehension of what it meant.

When I was sixteen, I volunteered as a bunkhouse leader at a local youth camp. Two years in a row, I had the same girl in my bunkhouse – a Korean who called herself Amy (I knew several Korean Amies at that point). She told me towards the end of the first camp in my bunkhouse that her real name was Su-Mi, and I dutifully wrote out my own name in Hangul for her – Le-i-chel (yes, I need to do something about my name.)

At her second camp in my bunkhouse, there were several Korean boys she knew in another bunkhouse who were – if we’re being honest – very much our problem campers, constantly getting into mischief. Almost every time we were near them, Su-Mi would sidle up to me and whisper, “Rachel, he said a bad word in Korean!”

Things came to a head on the second-to-last day of camp, when they were making nuisances of themselves at dinner, talking to each other loudly in Korean, safely assured that quiet Su-Mi was the only one who could understand them. (Which was true – although her little voice in my ear assured me that what they were saying was rude).

My table ran out of water, and I leant across the aisle in the dining room and tapped one of the boys on the shoulder.

“Mul ojuseyo?”

The two boys went so pale! “You speak Korean?”

The answer is ‘no, not really’, but I didn’t let that stop me. “Nye, gulochyo.”

Silently, they handed the jug of water over.

Su-Mi didn’t tell me they were swearing for the rest of the camp.


It’s been eight years since we were in Korea, and a lot has changed. When we first came back, there was just one Korean restaurant in Adelaide, and no-one had heard of Korea, kimchi, bulgogi or bibimbap.

Somewhere along the line, K-pop became the newest fad in Australia, and suddenly every teenage girl around was an officinado of Korean culture, music, and kimchi. A lot of Korean takeaway shops opened. I stopped talking about Korea – and bulgogi – quite so much, because I didn’t want to look like I was just following the latest fad.

But I’m still a massive fan of bulgogi – even though I don’t really like kimchi – and given that I’ve overfilled myself on ₩2000 of actual, genuine bulgogi with rice and lettuce and banchan sitting on the floor of a hole-in-the-wall establishment somewhere in the back-streets of downtown Daejon, I have a limited tolerance for the rice-and-meat-in-a-plastic-box combination that Korean takeaway shops in Adelaide try to pass off as “bulgogi” (or, even worse, with the English translation of “beef teriyaki”).

So sometimes there’s nothing for it but to visit one of the local Happy-Go-Lucky Marts and buy a bag of thinly-sliced beef and a jar of bulgogi sauce (yes, yes, I know, dear sister, that this creates sub-standard bulgogi and I should make the sauce myself) and make myself banchan and peel myself lettuce and eat Korean food the proper way.

With thin metal chopsticks, not with round wooden throw-away ones.

I’m planning a massive bulgogi (with banchan! with banchan, I tell you!) feast for the next weekend and made one of those trips into my favourite Happy-Go-Lucky Mart this afternoon.

It may be my favourite, but I only go in once or twice a year, and there’s always someone different in there. You know that feeling when you walk into a shop and you know you don’t belong? It wasn’t very full – there was only one other customer – but eyes followed me, thinking, “What is this white woman doing here? Should I ask her if she’s lost?”

I didn’t want much – just beef, bulgogi sauce, savoury pancake mix and puffed rice honey sticks (ssal-gwa-ja) – but there weren’t any rice sticks and I had trouble finding the pancake mix. I toyed with the idea over going over the counter and asking “do you have any pancake mix?”, but I didn’t know the word for “pancake” and asking “pancake mix issoyo?” is just confusing, because in Korea, pancakes are savoury and have vegetables in them, but in Australia, they’re sweet (in Korea, “hotcake”).

I eventually found the pancake mix and made my way over to the cash register to pay. The interaction was silent – they never know what to make of me – and as the man handed over my shopping, I bowed and murmured, “Kumsumnida.”

With K-pop and all things Korea so popular, I wonder every time why they’re so surprised every time.

“How do you speak Korean?”

“I was in Korea once when I was a child. My uncle lives in Daejon.”

“This is very good! Very good!”

“Chonun hanguk-olul haji malhanda.” (Officially the longest sentence I know, and probably wrong).

“Very good! Very good Korean! Here, is free!” He handed me a packet of squid-flavoured two-minute noodles, “Free for speak very good Korean!”

“Kumsumnida, kumsumnida!” More bowing as I leave. “Annyonghi kyeseyo! Kumsumnida!”

“Annyonghi kaseyo!”


When we were in Korea, free things came to us because we had small blond(e) children with us. Here in Australia, I get free things because I know a handful of phrases in Korean.

The area where I grew up – at the time, almost entirely Italian – is now the largest concentration of Koreans in the state. It’s a little sad that a white “local” knowing a few greetings in Korean is such a rarity that it warrants such excitement.

I can’t stand K-pop, just for the record.

(Looking Back At) Eurovision

This weekend is a big weekend.

Okay, yes, it’s Pentecost, so it was a big weekend at church, as well. We had a combined service with the neighbouring parish, which resulted in a packed-out church and a shared lunch made entirely of red food.


Also, the neighbouring parish doesn’t have a church building big enough to host us all, but it was their year to host, so they hosted at our place. It was confusing. And then our priest got out his firebreathing equipment.

So what else am I talking about? Have I spoilt it by putting it in the post title?

Eurovision is basically my version of sport. I’m not a hardcore fan. I’m not going to start getting up at 3am to watch it live. I pay attention to the extent that I’m typing this while watching the finals repeat. But Eurovision has just sort of always been part of my life.

Yes, since before it was the “cool” thing. I was talking about Eurovision at primary school when I was one of just two pupils who knew what it was.

So, here are some of my favourites (and not-so-favourites) from this year and previous years, in no particular order.

As I look back over what I’ve already typed, and glance up at the screen, I realise that a packed-out church with red and sparkly robes and a priest breathing fire is basically Eurovision, isn’t it? Anglicovision.

Germany, 2010 – Satellite, Lena

This was Year 9. I started going to the German school a year later, and this was the dance party song. It was right up there with Schnappi, and Lena was talked about almost as much as Justin Beber (as we insisted on spelling it).

France, 2015 – N’oubliez pas, Liza Angell

I shared this one last year. It’s still my favourite from last year’s Eurovision.

Sweden, 2016 – If I Were Sorry, Frans

Moderately good, but not a favourite, mostly because it’s a bit repetitive. I’ve mostly included it because he sounds almost exactly like a male Lena. (Julia Zemiro thought of that one, not me, but it’s true).

Russia, 2012 – Party for Everybody, Buranovskiye Babushki

Okay, I’ll admit it, I can’t actually really remember the song. I just remember these dear old ladies. They came second.

Italy, 2016 – No Degree of Separation, Francesca Michielin

Not an absolutely brilliant song, but amazing background graphics.

Italy, 1958 – Volare, Domenico Modugno

Speaking of Italy, my primary school choir learnt this for open day when I was in Year 6. (I grew up in a very Italian area. Almost all of the grandparents could probably speak Italian. And not English.) I didn’t realise until last year just how old this song was. I assumed, because we were learning it, that it was a recent Eurovision entry.

Lithuania, 2006 – We Are The Winners, LT United

My sister and I were singing it for months. Still are, occasionally. Well, I am, anyway.

Finland, 2006 – Hard Rock Hallelujah, Lordi

I ran out on this one, back in the day. I still don’t think much of death metal – although I am a fan of Klingons. But it’s not a song you forget easily.

England, 2003 – Crybaby, Jemini

Speaking of songs you don’t forget easily, have you ever heard anything so off-key? It’s so awful, the official Eurovision channel doesn’t even have it.

Ireland, 2008 – Irelande Douze Pointes, Dustin the Turkey

And speaking of complete flops… I’ve been assured that the turkey was very popular in Ireland, but… I’m convinced they should have been disqualified for exceeding the 6-person limit.

Germany, 1982 – Ein bisschen Frieden, Nicole

This is easily, absolutely, completely my all-time favourite Eurovision song ever.

Israel, 1979 – Hallelujah, Gali Atari

See, how can you say Australia isn’t European enough? Israel’s been in Eurovision since the 70s.

On another note, a great song for cheating on Hebrew homework with. “But I have been practicing Hebrew!”

Austria, 2016 – Loin D’ici, Zoe

Speaking of unusual languages… It’s not a bad song, but my head hurts just thinking about it. Merci, Autriche.

Russia, 2016 – You Are The Only One, Sergey Lazarev

You don’t have even to listen to it, just watch the amazing visuals. The song isn’t bad, though. I just can’t really remember it because I was distracted by the visuals.

Australia, 2016 – Sound of Silence, Dami Im

It’s not just patriotic. I definitely think it’s one of the best this year, even if I’m completely sick of it. Not worse than Ukraine, though. I don’t mind not winning – two years isn’t enough for Europe to be okay with it, and Eurovision is ultimately political – but I’d have rather lost to Russia or Italy or Austria… or Sweden again.