Visiting Vanessa at Moore Theological College
On a drizzly late afternoon in Sydney, Vanessa Ong, our seminarian at Moore Theological College greeted me at the college entrance. She was beaming from ear to ear, happy to meet a fellow member from her church family after being away overseas for some time.
“How was the walk here from the train station? Was it too far? Come in! Let me show you around,” she chirps.
The campus ground was quiet with few students in sight. “It’s Research Week,” explains Vanessa. “We are all working on our essays that are due next Monday.”
We walked through the corridor into a room which opens into the campus square- the “bread room” as known by Moore students.
“This place is where students can get their bread every morning for breakfast. It’s free!” as she opens up a long metal box with loaves of bread in plastic bags.
Vanessa spends most of her time here studying. For effectiveness, she usually studies in the comfort of her room. She doesn’t study in the library as often, admitting that she gets too distracted by the books around her.
“There’s just so much to read! I end up reading instead of studying, which is what I should be doing,” she confesses.
We then moved on to peek into her room, where on her study desk were neatly stacked books, with her laptop displaying a half-completed essay whirring away in the background.
At the corner of her desk sat a board pinned with colourful Post-it’s, filled with farewell messages from CERC.
“I brought this here with me because it was given to me just before I flew off. It’s kinda nice to look at it and be reminded of the CERC family back home,” saying with a smile.
A day in seminary usually starts with Vanessa spending 15 minutes revising her Hebrew and Greek vocabulary before lectures begin. When we met, she was carrying a piece of paper with some handwritten words in Hebrew.
“Yeah… I got to revise this every day. It’s a lot of rote learning. Tables and tables to memorise. I even do this on the weekends because if I stop revising this for just two days, I wouldn’t be able to remember it by Monday. You know how it is with language.”
Vanessa is usually in lecture halls by 8AM as classes begin early at Moore. Classes usually end by lunch, after which she would spend the rest of the day researching for an essay that makes up 40% of her total semester score.
“When I first looked at the title of the essay, I thought that it was okay lah. But when I started reading and researching, I realised that it’s a lot of work man! The essay is on ‘How does Paul use the Old Testament in Ephesians’ by the way,” she says.
We walked out of the campus and into the streets of Newtown, where there were a large number of Asian restaurants. For dinner, we entered one of two Thai restaurants located near one another. “It tastes the same whether this or the other restaurant,” she says convincingly.
Vanessa frequents Thai restaurants in the area as prices are fairly affordable, and it gives her a flavour of the Asian food she misses back home.
Over steamed rice and tom yam, she notes that her schedule in seminary is very different from her time as a ministry apprentice back in Malaysia. While weekends are peak periods in the week for an apprentice, her Saturdays are now spent revising Hebrew and Greek in a café or on campus.
“Yeah… It’s really different now. Feels so weird not doing as much ministry as I did back at home,” she says.
Vanessa attends Multicultural Bible Ministry (MBM) in Sydney, a church located two hours by bus from the seminary. She serves as student minister there, helping out with kids ministry on Sunday morning and attends the evening gathering.
“Right now, I’m just learning how things are done here. The kids ministry here is huge and there are a lot of things I can learn from my time at church. I think this is the best place I can go to for church, although it is quite far away from seminary,” she explains.
It was dark outside as we finished dinner. As we walked down the street towards the train station, her parting words to the church were: “It’s only been a few months, but I miss you CERC! Looking forward to be back with the church soon.”
We miss you too Vanessa, and pray you will be equipped to learn well for the sake of the gospel here in Malaysia.
If you would like to support Vanessa and the work at CERC, please visit our Support us page at https://www.cerc.com.my/support-us/.
Posted on 6th June 2018