About Phil Smith (left): he's an Aussie! But he's a permanent resident of Hong Kong.
Born in Geelong, Australia 10 September 1946, I turned 61 this year. My wife Wendy (right) was born in Yallourn, Australia and our children, Victor 17 years, Nina 14 years, Benjamin 12 years, and Rosemary 11 years, were all born in Hong Kong.
My primary area of spare-time (what's that?) study is the Bible and all things pertaining to Christianity (see testimony below).
My family are very important to me and I attempt to spend some time with them every day during the children's waking hours. The biggest temptation is to accept more and more work, but then, although I might become financially richer, my kids would grow up wondering who Dad is, so when clients hear that I have a prior appointment it may well be with my family.
I am very interested in the weather and all kinds of natural phenomena including typhoons, tornadoes, and all kinds of storms. Therefore I have set up a Typhoons page, a Weather Page and an Archives Page for weather information which include links to all sorts of weather-related sites around the world with special emphasis on Hong Kong related sites.
I am interested in all forms of public transport. In Hong Kong, that especially relates to the buses I have had to use so frequently for so many years. I am especially pleased to have seen Citybus grow from a very small company into what I regard as Hong Kong's best form of public transport.
Testimony of Phil Smith
My mother, Wenche Smith was born in Australia in 1922 of a Swedish father and a Norwegian mother; my dad, Jack Smith was born in Australia in 1923 of parents descended from people who had arrived in Australia as convicts on the First Fleet in 1786; and I was born at Newtown in Geelong on 10th September 1946. At that time, our home address was 9 Bloomsbury Street, Chilwell, Geelong, where my family lived with my maternal grandparents.
I was born physically handicapped, having loose-jointed ankles, feet, wrists and hands and the feet especially being at completely wrong angles. The doctors told my mother I would probably learn to walk but would never be able to run or jump or play like other kids. Fortunately, nobody told me, so though I started walking very late and was slow to learn all physical actions, I managed to teach myself to do a lot that the doctors had said would be impossible. Until I was 26 years old, my feet stood splayed out at very wide angles to the direction of walking and years and years of physiotherapy only managed to bring them around to a "ten to two" position which would still sometimes revert to an almost "quarter to three" position when I got really tired. As a primary school kid I used to sometimes amaze the other kids by turning my feet so that they faced backwards instead of in the direction the rest of my body was facing.
[Note added in December 2007]: Looking back now and being aware that I am diagnosed as an autistic person, I suspect that part of the strange diagnosis given to my mother more than sixty years ago was related to my strange limb movements which today would cause an instant diagnosis of autism. My "loose-jointed" ankles and feet and wrists and hands" I suspect as being a GP having no idea of how to interpret typical autistic movements in an infant. I could be wrong, of course, but having studied autism a great deal, that is what I suspect.
Shortly after my birth, I was put to sleep in the pram which was parked in the built-in front verandah of the house. A tornado struck the house resulting in total demolition of the verandah: the roof was gone, the walls were gone, all furniture was gone, the only item left on the bare mosaic-tiled floor was the pram with baby Phil inside still asleep and completely unaware of his miraculous escape from injury. Even the mosquito net was undisturbed on top of the pram. My grandfather used to often tell me the story as I was growing up: I think he loved to see my eyes open wide as I heard all the details. He used to say that this experience was what caused me to have such a life-long interest in studying all matters relating to weather. I have been unable to verify independantly the truth of this story, as my grandfather was sometimes known to "stretch" things somewhat in order to make a good story. In particular, I have been unable to verify the date or location of the tornado.
My family lived mainly around Geelong and Wensleydale during my first few years. All my primary school and half of my high school years the family lived in Terang, then it was back to Geelong for a year and then to Morwell.
Born again December 1949:
A visiting Norwegian sailor named Aaron (I think - may have mixed up the name with another of my grandfather's stories), then about 90 years old, visited my grandfather and presented the gospel to him while I sat on the step listening. I remember him saying again and again that to sin meant to miss the mark.
My grandfather refused to believe, but I believed every word and for the next few years as a little kid I used to love to go out in the yard and talk to Jesus. (Note: I was very blessed nearly four decades later to be used by the Lord to lead my grandfather to Christ the last time I saw him before he died.)
The likening of the meaning of the word "sin" to "missing the mark" became very vivid to me during the Korean War as I watched the ack-ack guns trying to hit a drogue being towed by an aeroplane: almost invariably the shells would burst hundreds of metres behind the target giving a very graphic illustration right across the sky of how, even when we try so carefully to aim at hitting the right target, it is always so easy to miss. Watching the ack-ack guns practising at night time was always much more thrilling as the searchlights were used as well. Some nights those searchlights just never could lock on to the aeroplanes no matter how hard the operators tried. This illustrated for my young mind how easy it was to fall short, to fall into sin and to need the forgiveness only Jesus could give.
I shall never forget the evening of 31st December 1949. The family was at Wallington near Geelong with several sets of relatives and friends to "let the New Year in". The lights went out and I went out onto the back yard and saw all of the stars in the sky. I said to my mother "Where did the stars come from?" and she responded "God made them." As I stood staring upwards I had an unforgettable revelation of how wonderful God is.
An unforgettable answer to prayer occurred during the winter of 1950 when we lived in Terang, a township of about 2,500 people on the rolling plains of South Western Victoria. My Mum read me a bedtime story about a snowman. I asked whether Dad could make me a snowman in the backyard before he went to work in the morning. Mum told me that you needed snow to build a snowman and snow falls in Norway, not in Australia. I promptly asked God to send plenty of snow during the night so Daddy could make me a snowman before work tomorrow. We awoke in the morning to about 5 cm of fresh snow covering the whole town and Dad made me a snowman on the back verandah before he went to work. That was the first recorded snowfall in 110 years of white settlement, and as far as I know there has not been another snowfall there in the 57 years since then.
My parents were not believers and therefore didnt give me any support, and so I listened to kids at school who likened Jesus to Santa or the Easter Bunny and so I gradually lost my belief or, rather, let it die down.
The first sentence I wrote correctly on my slate when I was nearly four years old was: "On the third day God raised Jesus from the dead." For some reason, that accomplishment and the meaning of that sentence have never left me.
Two decades of attempted unbelief:
From about 1953 to about 1973 I was not particularly active in my Christian life: the coal removed from the fire had gone out.
However, during those two decades, whether I hung around with the foul-mouthed kids at school, or worked on rough construction sites with even rougher men, I never could bring myself to use the Lords name in vain, even though all those around me were doing it all the time. It seemed to me that even if I wasnt a believer, the God I had known as a little kid just might really be there all the time, and in case he was, I didnt want to be caught out breaking any of his commandments.
In retrospect, it seems that deep underneath, try as I might, I could never really stop believing in the Lord.
In mid-year 1951 I commenced my education at Terang State School No 617 while my Dad was the accountant at John W McKenzie Motors in Terang. I progressed at an average rate and graduated from Grade 6 in 1957 by which time my Dad was the proprietor of the Olympic Cafe at 77 High Street Terang.
In 1958 I commenced in Form 1Z at Terang High School. During 1960 I transferred to Belmont High School, Geelong. During 1961 I transferred to Morwell High School from which I matriculated at the end of 1963.
During my high school years, to the astonishment of my parents, I started getting dressed up every Sunday and attending the Anglican church near our home. After about three weeks I was drafted into teaching Sunday school and soon found I had no idea what I was supposed to be teaching so I rapidly dropped out.
I was very wary of my father's recommendation that I had to ride a motorbike for twelve months before I could get a car licence. However, "Father Knows Best" and so I started riding my first motorcycle on 16th June 1964. Today, more than 43 years later, motorbikes are still my preferred means of transport. See my motorbike pages here. [Students at Capalaba State College researching this need to click here and there instead.]
At Ballarat Teachers College in about 1967 or 1968 somebody approached me and asked if I was a Christian. Now I had learned in Social Studies that Australia was considered a Christian country, I had been born in Australia, therefore I was a Christian, so I said "Yes" and was invited to attend Teacher's College Christian Fellowship (TCCF).
As soon as I got to a TCCF meeting I became aware that these kids had something I didnt. But having told the leader I was a Christian, I wasnt game enough to ask any of them how to get what they had. I wondered whether it was somehow related to the way I used to believe in Jesus as a kid. But nobody in those meetings ever shared the gospel with me. They prayed for missionaries all around the world, sang choruses, and raved about how wonderful the Lord was, but they never shared Him with me.
The more I attended, the more I desired what they had, and the harder I found it to stay in the meetings not having what they had. So I stopped attending, and nobody ever followed me up to ask why.
Several times during my years as a teacher I also started attending Anglican churches for a month or two at a time, but each time I did so I felt that I didn't really believe the words I was saying as we droned though the services as set out in The Book of Common Prayer and, not wanting to be a hypocrite (at least, that was the excuse I used to justify myself) I would cease attending after a while.
Born again again 13-9-1973:
On 21st March 1973 I was returning home from school after an evening lecture, when the motorcycle I was riding was hit by a drunken driver speeding through an intersection throwing me about 85 feet through the air until I landed as a crumpled heap on the road. I looked at how badly both my motorcycle and the car had been damaged and marvelled that I was still alive. As I waited for the ambulance to arrive, I looked around me and observed that churches were located on three of the corners of the intersection and on the fourth corner was a Shell service station. The thought was going through my mind "God was looking after you".
At the hospital I was told that my left leg would have to be amputated to save my life but they needed my permission. The same voice who had said at the accident scene that he was looking after me said "dont let them remove your leg" so I refused permission for the amputation. The doctors told me that I would never walk again without a walking frame or crutches, that I would be crippled for the rest of my life.
The Gideons Bible was placed beside every bed in the hospital and I would often read it to while away the time. I would think back to when I was a kid and I would want to get to know God. I would think about TCCF meetings and I would want to get to know God. I would think back to the night of my accident, hear Gods voice again in my mind, and I would want to get to know God.
In August or September there was an accident involving a road grader and the grader driver was brought into the same room in the same ward and placed in the bed opposite mine.
He talked about Jesus as though He was his best friend. He asked the cleaner to pass me a tract called "This Was Your Life" which I read and considered very deeply. The grader drivers pastor came to visit him and also came and spoke to me and prayed with me. I was delaying giving my life to Christ just yet, but at the same time wanting to more and more.
Other hospital visitors came from various churches and denominations and I was able to discern clearly that some of them had what I wanted and some didnt, some were alive and some were dead, some really knew Jesus and some only knew about Jesus.
One guy came in smoking like a chimney, swearing like a trooper, reeking of alcohol and claiming to be a Christian. After he left, I said to the Lord: "what about that guy; if he walks out of here and gets hit by a truck hell wake up in hell even though he claims to be a Christian!" And that same voice who had spoken to me on the roadway at the time of my accident immediately answered and said "what about you Phil Smith, why do you keep putting off doing what your heart desires most? You have no control over whether you might fall out of bed and break your neck and be left without the time to make the decision you need to make."
At 10 minutes past 12 midday on 13th September 1973, I picked up that tract by my bedside, turned to where I had many times read through the prayer of commitment and this time I prayed it and meant it and prayed a lot more as well. I didnt even eat my lunch! At that time I knew deep inside myself that Jesus had entered in, that my sin had been forgiven and that I had eternal life, whether I fell out of bed and broke my neck or not.
I wish I still had a copy of that tract so that I might quote the words of that prayer verbatim here. [Note: 21/12/02: the tract can now be viewed at: This Was Your Life] I do recall that I expanded the printed version a lot with my own words as I prayed through it. That's because this time I wasn't just reading it and agreeing with it, I was really praying it through from the depths of my heart. The general gist of the prayer was something like this.
"Lord Jesus Christ, now I realise that all of my life I have been a sinner. Even when I reckoned I was a pretty good and respectable sort of a bloke, I was falling a long way short of what you were wanting me to be. Lord, I was denying you, and trying to be good in my own strength and now here I was these last few days even knowing what I had to do to be right with you and yet choosing to put it off until later. So now Lord I want to tell you all about all of the sin in my life, I want you to uncover it all, and I want to give it all to you and be done with it. Forgive me of every sin Lord. I here and now open up my heart to you and I ask you to come into me and live for ever in me so that I can live a Jesus Christ kind of life from now on. Live your life through me, Jesus. Change me and make me new because I know I can never change myself. Come into me and make me into a new creation. Make me a new person. Make me whole. Make me real. Lord I give my whole life to you, to use how you want to from now on. In the name of Jesus. Amen"
How did I feel after that? GREAT. I just had this very deep knowledge that Jesus truly had entered into my heart and would be there for the rest of my life. I realised I still had the freewill to be able to turn away from him again if I wanted to, but how could I ever be that stupid again. I prayed a lot that day. I prayed for my family of course, and a few prayers and collects I remembered from the Book of Common Prayer, together with a lot of prayer made up as I went along.
I read through the New Testament from cover to cover in two and a half days and then read it again in the next two and a half days. Then I slowed down a bit and took about five days to read it the third time. I just couldn't get enough of it. I had read it before but now it was truly alive. I became a kind of Bible addict for many years from that day. Don't get the idea I never missed a day of Bible reading. I'm not that good. But I do miss it if I haven't been in it for a few days.
This report would not be complete if I neglected to say that later on the very day I had asked Jesus into my life, I found myself sinning again. I therefore had to repent again and once again thank Jesus for his forgiveness which I sure didn't deserve. I'm afraid I have to say that this has been pretty well a daily occurrence for more than a quarter century since that day.
The grader driver had gone home a few days earlier and now I wanted to meet other Christians. The sister in charge of my ward was the wife of the leader of Christs Crusaders, a motorcycle group who rode around preaching the gospel. She told her husband how I was trying to preach to everyone in the ward so the Christs Crusaders came to visit me in hospital. It was a great time.
Finding a church:
I was discharged from hospital and the following Sunday, having been long ago baptised an Anglican, went to the nearest Anglican Church. During the whole service, the prayer book just came to life as the Holy Spirit gave me new revelation regarding those wonderful words, which earlier in my life had seemed like mere words, but now were alive with the life only Jesus can give them. The words which came most incredibly to life and which I have never since forgotten are the words of the collect at the beginning of the Communion service which read: "Almighty God, unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magify thy holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen." The vicar preached for the required twenty minutes on Romans 6:23 "The wages of sin is death". At the end he made a passing reference to the part about eternal life and said "of course we intelligent people of the twentieth century dont believe in eternal life, after all, you rarely meet anybody who is more than 100 years old. No, that part of the verse was just a nice pleasantry to make the simple people of those times feel a bit better."
After the service as everyone was filing out and telling the vicar how good his sermon was, I said to him: "I started my eternal life a few weeks ago when I asked Jesus to come into my heart, cleanse me from my sin, and give me eternal life." At this the vicar puffed himself up under his cassock and said: "Dont you DARE come into MY church poisoning the minds of MY congregation with your evangelical ideas."
I went home and cried and asked the Lord how come I couldnt find his people in the churches. As I was drying the dishes, I saw the word "Methodist" on a sheet of newspaper the fish had been wrapped in and decided that next Sunday I would try the Methodist church.
As I pulled up in front of the Yallourn Methodist Church, I felt as though the Lord was saying to me, "not this one, go to Morwell" so I went about 11 kilometres to Morwell and attended the Saint Lukes Methodist Church there.
My first surprise was that the service was not unlike the Anglican service with very similar living words leaping out at me from the "Order of Worship". The major difference was that here, the people had a vibrant living relationship with Jesus and messages of prophecy and tongues with interpretation were usually shared during the services to build everybody up. I soon discovered that not all Methodist churches were quite like this one.
And the crippled man was made whole:
At an evening service at St Luke's, the sermon was on healing and all those around me encouraged me to go forward for prayer. Those ministering all layed on hands and prayed and then suggested that I throw away my crutches and try walking without them. I wasnt game enough to try. Some of the best orthopædic surgeons in the world had said that I would never walk again and I wasnt about to try.
Part of my therapy was to get into water up to my neck so that the water would be supporting my weight and go through the motions of walking along the bottom of the pool. Wednesday was such a sunny day and Lake Narracan looked so inviting that I had some people assist me into the water where I tried out my walking along the bottom exercises. As I did so, I felt as though the Lord were talking to me, not an audible voice, just a deep thought process deep within my heart. The conversation went something like: "Did you ask Me to heal you on Sunday night?" "Yes." "Do you believe that I can heal people if I choose?" "Yes." "Then why not walk right up out of the water onto the bank and walk back to Camp Woorabinda without your crutches?" Unable to come up with a satisfactory answer, I turned towards the shore, walked up onto the beach, picked up my crutches, put them over my shoulder, walked straight past the mini-bus that was supposed to take me back to the camp, and walked several hundred metres all the way to the camp. I returned the crutches to the hospital and have never used them or a walking frame from that day to this. I had been scheduled for an X-ray a couple of days later, so I kept the appointment and the radiologist, who was new, said, "Why have they scheduled you for this X-ray? Surely this leg was broken years ago when you were a kid." I told him the Lord had healed me but he wouldnt have it; he claimed my medical records were false.
A side effect of the healing of the fractured leg was that my whole lower end had somehow been straightened up from its previously handicapped shape. My feet are not perfectly aligned now, and they are certainly not as strong as the average person's, but my mobility became far better than it had ever been in my life. praise the Lord for giving me more healing than I had asked for!
The Christs Crusaders Motor Cycle Club was based at Saint Lukes church and held their meetings there, so I joined it and was soon involved in taking the gospel to others who rode bikes. We would locate the headquarters of an outlaw biker gang named Satans Cavalry and go right in there and preach to them on their home ground. I became leader of Christs Crusaders in August 1974 and remained in that position until I moved to Melbourne in 1976.
During 1975 I was employed as a lay pastor in the Parish; I was in charge of the Emmanuel United Church in Morwell East and was assistant pastor at St Lukes. One Sunday evening a young lady named Wendy Eades came forward at the altar call. She soon began to regularly attend St Lukes and would always attend the Wednesday morning service of Holy Communion after which she had time to kill before proceeding to the University where she was studying. We usually killed that time by Wendy coming into the house adjacent to the church where I lived and having a cuppa. The rest of the congregation had us figured out already, but it didnt immediately occur to Wendy or me that one day we would be married.
I went to Melbourne to be interviewed by the professors with a view to being accepted
as a student in Theological hall. During the interview, a professor asked me the question,
"What are your views on Marriage?"
Wendy came with me to my sisters wedding in Melbourne in December 1975 and the revelation was somehow confirmed to me that we were meant to get married.
Sunday 8th February 1976 was our wedding day and after a very exhausting day we headed off on a motorcycle and sidecar for our honeymoon.
I had been strongly encouraged by the whole church to become a candidate for the ministry, so I did so and after our honeymoon Wendy and I headed off to Melbourne where I studied for and received a degree of Bachelor in Theology. During the five years of study, the Methodist church joined with the Congregational and Presbyterian Churches to form the Uniting Church in Australia. What troubled me most about this was that the "blue book", that is the regulations and laws of this new church, did not state that the Bible was the Word of God, but only that "the word of God may be found among the pages of the Bible." To be ordained would mean that I would have to subscribe to this belief. Every few months I would go to my professors and say that I did not feel that I was called to be an ordained minister of the church. They would always be most encouraging and successfully talk me out of resigning.
At the end of my studies, I just knew I couldnt be ordained and so I opted to work as a Lay Pastor and defer my ordination. Several years later, I still felt I ought not to be ordained so I went to the Presbytery to "withdraw from my candidature for ordination" which was their long-winded expression for resigning.
In the early eighties we moved to Sydney where I was called to be Dean of Vision Bible College. At the same time I worked as part-time pastor of the Little Bay Uniting Church. From time to time I joined Harry Westcott, the director of Vision Ministries, and we travelled interstate for evangelistic missions.
An angel comes to our assistance:
While travelling around Australia by car in 1982 we were almost caught by the start of the wet season. On Tuesday 2nd November 1982, we left from Kununurra very early in the morning, filled up with petrol at Hall's Creek and crossed the 320 km of bare desert (there was no made or marked roads there in those days) to Fitzroy Crossing. As we approached Fitzroy crossing the sky was filling with very black clouds making it so dark we had to put our headlights on in the middle of the afternoon. The rain held off until we reached the start of the made road. 50 metres after the beginning of the sealed road the rain came pouring down so that we could hardly see where we were driving.
After filling up at Fitzroy Crossing we continued on towards Derby. We had observed that the very wide and deep channels on both sides of the road had soon filled with water, and then we found that we were driving along in about 20cm of water right across the road. We were very thankful that there were guideposts along both sides of the road. As we drove, we were singing the song: "With Christ in my Vessel I can Smile at the Storm". Those words were very comforting as the lightning flashed incessantly and the thunder cracked and rumbled very loudly and continuously.
We came to the T intersection where one could turn North to Derby or South to Broome. The only trouble was that the whole intersection was under one vast lake of water and there were no guideposts: we could not see exactly where the road went and we knew there would be deep channels at either side to swallow us up if we ran off the road. We stopped there right in the middle of the intersection, not daring to proceed any further. We looked towards Broome, no sign of any lights. We looked towards Derby, no sign of any lights. We looked behind us towards Fitzroy Crossing, no sign of any lights. We prayed and asked the Lord to help us. I looked towards Wendy and said, "We will have to stay right here until the Lord sends help." I looked back and a Toyota utility was right beside the car and pulled in front of us and stopped. We noticed many details about the truck and that it had Perth licence plates.
The ute moved off slowly and was obviously turning in the direction of Derby, so we followed carefully behind him through the flood waters. After a few kilometres we ran out of the rain and the floodwaters. I glanced around at Wendy and said, "Wow, the Lord sent that ute along at just the right time." I looked back at the road in front, and the Toyota, which had been 30 metres ahead of us a second earlier, had vanished without a trace. It was a straight almost level road with no side roads turning off.
The following morning we asked the locals about the Toyota ute with Perth licence plates and they were all adamant that there was no such vehicle in the district. We went back to the spot on the road where it had disappeared, and there was no sign of any laneways, gates, tracks or other places where the ute could have gone.
Gradually it dawned on us that the Lord had somehow sent an angel to rescue us in our moment of need.
Leaving the Uniting Church:
I went through a time of upheaval not knowing where the Lord was leading me and torn between my loyalty to the Uniting Church which had paid for all of my training and the attraction of the non-denominational Pentecostal "Christian Centre" at Dee Why (now known as Christian City Church and situated at Oxford Falls). Eventually I resigned from every facet of the Uniting Church and was about to head off for England with Wendy to visit her mother and sister who were living there for a period.
The London Disaster:
The Pastor of our new church had had a vision for setting up a Christian City Church in London, jumped to the conclusion that I was his man to do it and in the space of a few days I was being commissioned to go off half-way around the world to start a new church.
As nobody, least of all me, had prayed through this idea, I can see in hindsight that it was doomed to disaster from the start. With all kinds of immigration restrictions working against us, and not having the slightest idea of how to start a church anyway, we were soon without vision, direction or money.
We had fares to reach the States and there we met with Alan Langstaff with whom we had often worked over the years at Vision Ministries in Australia. He pragmatically advised us to return to Australia where we were permitted to work for a living and that if there ever had been anything of the Lord in the vision for London, then we would return one day with appropriate visas to fulfil the vision.
We reached the coast at California and had no money to get back to Australia. We rang Christian City Church and they bought us tickets home for which we were required to repay the loan at a later date.
The call to secular work:
Shortly after our return to Australia, our pastor gave a prophetic word over us, saying the Lord was calling me to work in a secular position, in the field of computing. Unknown to him, I had wanted as a high school student to become a computer programmer one day. However, when I had graduated from high school there had been no computers in Australia, so I had gone to work in other fields.
I was given a motorcycle which I used to work as a courier delivering letters all over Sydney to keep the bread and butter on the table while I tried to figure out how to get into computing. I became one of the best couriers at the company until another guy took over as the radio controller and as I refused to become involved in certain unsavoury activities, I was soon left empty all day with no jobs to do. The new controller gave all the good jobs to his mates and gave me only the bare minimum.
I was probably as close as I ever got in my life to a nervous breakdown so I prayed about getting a regular job with no stress. By writing "not-applicable" in all of the Education boxes on the application form, I soon had a job as cleaner in the Accident and Emergency Department at the Mona Vale Hospital. I very soon had a reputation as being the best cleaner they had ever had on that section. My boss overheard me conversing with the doctors at lunch and called me in one day and asked me exactly what education levels I had obtained. He was not over surprised to learn of my degrees, diplomas and Certificates. He asked me how come I had not written all this on my application form. I asked him whether I would have got the job if I had, and he replied, "No way". I then asked him whether there was anything unsatisfactory about my performance and he spoke of all the good reports he had been receiving so I stayed on there until I resigned to go to New Zealand to my sister-in-laws wedding.
On returning from New Zealand I was appointed caretaker of the Wakehurst Christian School, located at Oxford Falls, which was operated by Christian City Church. There the Lord enabled such miracles as getting half a million dollars worth of earthworks done free of charge in return for parking bulldozers and heavy equipment in a disused part of our land. Thus I was able to make a hillside and a swamp into a full-size football oval almost single-handed. And during the evenings I taught myself BASIC programming on the schools computer.
While still working as caretaker there, I also landed a job in the evenings writing a full suite of programs to computerise the running of a bookshop and publishing house. I wrote all this in the COBOL language. I learned through this job, that I needed to study programming if I was to really succeed at it.
Control Data Institute:
I enrolled at Control Data Institute in Sydney and completed a Diploma in Programming Technology. I later worked as an instructor for the same company which was taken over by Computer Power and was renamed Computer Power Training Institute. During the evenings I studied further towards a Diploma in Computer Hardware Maintenance Technology. This second diploma course was not completed.
Meanwhile Wendy was working as a dental nurse with a dentist named Dr Hui who had originated in Hong Kong. The more we talked with Dr Hui, the more we were being gradually attracted to Hong Kong.
Computer Power was approached by a group of Hong Kong companies to set up a training institute in Hong Kong as computer training in the territory varied from very poor to non-existent and there was an acute shortage of programmers.
To Hong Kong:
After much interviewing and faxing back and forth, I was appointed to go to Hong Kong to establish the Computer Power Training Institute there. Thus it was that Wendy and I arrived in Hong Kong on the evening of 29th March 1989. Some of the things I was confronted with in the first few days made me consider getting on the next flight back to Australia, but if the Lord had brought us to Hong Kong, then in Hong Kong we should stay.
One of the things laid down in no uncertain terms by my new boss was that under no circumstances could I do any preaching of the gospel to any of the students while I worked with the company.
That was not a problem to the Lord; many students came to Christ after I honestly answered their questions. I never did stand up anywhere and preach, but circumstances just happened all around me which caused students to be constantly asking me how I managed to cope with everything that went wrong. I think it also became well known that I had refused to accept a bribe of a great roll of thousand dollar notes to falsify an examination record. In Hong Kong that was a very impressive thing to do, especially as at the time the money would have been very useful.
Our family grows:
In 1975, before we were married, Wendy and I had decided that we would have four children. We agreed that it would "be nice" if there were two girls and two boys, but since that kind of detail was in the hands of the Lord, we would leave it up to him. For many years we tried every month and were disappointed every month, but we refused to mention the word "infertile": it wasn't part of our vocabulary.
We had unsuccessfully tried fertility pills and had commenced work on IVF when it was interrupted by our move to Hong Kong.
In Hong Kong we discovered that we were eligible to adopt and in August 1989 we approached the Social Welfare Department and commenced the marathon 16-month ordeal of adopting our first son who came to our home at only five weeks of age in December 1990.
Victor Leo Smith, born 29th October 1990, was only 2.125 Kg at birth and wasn't much bigger when we brought him home. Now he's seventeen years old and he really loves computer games. He loves to use computers and especially loves surfing the Internet looking for pages relating to his favourite TV characters. He is fluent in Cantonese and English and on 1st September 1997 commenced studying at the Stewards Pooi Kei Primary School in Fo Tan. After a year at Pooi Kei school, Victor transferred to the Norwegian School at Tai Po where he commenced his Primary 2 studies in August 1998 and completed his primary schooling in June 2001. He is very keen on dancing and was cast in the Hong Kong Dance Company production of Journey to the West staged at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre Grand Theatre in August 1998. In November 1998, he also danced in the Anniversary special show on TVB Jade channel, Hong Kong's most popular television station. For several years after 1998, Victor has continued to perform in the subsequent versions of Journey to the West. In September 2001 he commenced his middle school studies at International Christian School. From January 2004 he moved to a State High School near Brisbane in Queensland Australia. In January 2007, he commenced full-time study of ballet at The Queensland Conservatoire of Ballet.
Nine months after we had been to the court to finalise Victor's adoption, we applied for a second child and this time specified that we wanted a girl. Thus began another 15 month ordeal of forms, interviews, home studies etc., interrupted by an abortive attempt at a private adoption.
Nina Elizabeth Smith, born 15th April 1993, came home when she was almost four months old. Now she is fourteen years old and her favourite TV show is the Wiggles on ABC video from Australia. For about a year we thought she was probably a Williams Syndrome child, and later we thought she was an Asperger's Syndrome child, although medical diagnosis for both conditions was very inconclusive. She now seems to be neither syndrome but definitely has learning difficulties. She was also fluent in Cantonese and English (but now the Cantonese is dropping away from lack of use).
Nine months after we had been to court to finalise Nina's adoption, we applied for our third child without specifying which sex we wanted.
Benjamin Phillip Smith, born 12th August 1995, joined our family at six months of age. He is now twelve years old and his favourite TV show is "Kids Sing Christmas" on video. He understands both Cantonese and English but is not very fluent in either as yet. In December 2000 he was diagnosed as being Autistic.
Nine months after we had been to court to finalise Benjamin's adoption, we put in our preliminary application for our fourth and last child. That long and drawn out process led to us meeting our gorgeous little 9 Kg 12-months-old daughter, Rosemary Anne Smith, on 12th December 1997. She came home to join our family permanently on Wednesday 17th December 1997. Rosemary was born 6th December 1996 so she is now eleven years old.
Throughout our adoption endeavours we have had a lot of support from the Hong Kong Adoption Support Group which later became Adoptive Families of Hong Kong, a group of people involved in every aspect of the adoption process with regular meetings in Hong Kong.
Our church life in Hong Kong:
For our first six years in Hong Kong we were members of the Shepherd Community Grace Church, where our Pastor was Ben Wong. We loved the church, but as our family grew, it became more and more of a hassle to travel there each Sunday. The other problem was that the language of worship was entirely Cantonese and so, while it was easy to join in the worship and singing, it was much harder for us to understand the sermons.
Therefore we moved to the Shatin Anglican Church at the beginning of 1995. There our Pastor is Rev Stephen Durie who is a truly excellent preacher, and we really enjoyed being part of the church.
Since this page was written, we have moved to Australia, joined a new church, sought for work, etc., but as this page is too long already, I shall start a new one as soon as I can make the time.
1960-1963 Various holiday positions during school holidays
1964-1965 Land Surveyor's Assistant at Latrobe Valley Water and Sewerage Board, Traralgon, Victoria, Australia
1966-1967 Land Surveyor's Assistant at Fisher and Jeffreys, Licensed Surveyors, Ballarat, Victoria, Australia
1967-1968 Full-time student at Ballarat Teachers' College, Ballarat, Victoria, Australia
1969-1973 Headmaster and Primary Teacher, Education Department of Victoria, at Dumbalk North and Yallourn Primary Schools
1972-1974 Owned and operated an Interstate bus line registered as "The Gippsland-Monaro Service" which operated three trips each way each week between Bairnsdale, Victoria and Canberra, A.C.T. employing my father, Jack Smith, as the principal driver.
1974-1976 Lay Pastor, St Luke's Methodist Church, Morwell, Victoria, Australia
1976-1977, 1979-1980 Full-time student at United Faculty of Theology, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Also Student Pastor, Moonee Ponds Methodist Church; Administrator of Migrant Hosting Scheme, Church of All Nations, Carlton.
1978 Full-time student at Melodyland School of Theology, Anaheim, California, USA. Also part-time staff at Melodyland Christian Centre, Anaheim, California, USA.
1981-1982 Dean, Vision College, Sydney, NSW, Australia
1981-1983 Part-time Lay Pastor, Little Bay Uniting Church, Sydney, NSW, Australia
1983-1984 Travelling in England and USA
1984-1985 Motorcycle courier at Crisis Couriers, Sydney, NSW, Australia
1984-1987 Part-time computer programmer in BASIC and COBOL.
1985-1986 Cleaner at Mona Vale Hospital, Sydney, NSW, Australia
1986-1987 Caretaker, Wakehurst Christian School, Oxford Falls, Sydney, NSW, Australia / Part-time computer programmer.
1987 Full-time student at Control Data Institute, Sydney, NSW, Australia
1987-1989 Instructor in Computer Programming at Control Data Institute, Sydney, NSW, Australia
1989-1993 Training Manager at Computer Power Training Institute, Hong Kong
1992-October 1997: Director, Doctor Disk (operated by Wah Ming Service Limited), Hong Kong: Computer Consultants.
October 1997-June 2006: Director, Doctor Disk (operated by Doctor Disk Limited), Hong Kong: Computer Consultants.
August 2000-June 2006: IT Teacher, International Christian School, Hong Kong.
June 2006-present: various casual jobs in Queensland while looking for permannent work.
Setting up Wah Ming Service Limited and Doctor Disk and Doctor Disk Limited:
This page was last modified on 06/02/08 at 14:57:05 Hong Kong Time (UTC + 8 Hours).
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Copyright © 1996 - 2010 Phil Smith, all rights reserved. All contents in this web site are provided as is without warranty of any kind. Phil Smith expressly disclaims any liability from the use of any information in this web site.
Note: for sections of some of the pages within this site attributed to [HKO]: the links and materials provided therein are supplied by the Hong Kong Observatory and the following Notice is applicable to those sections: Copyright Notice: All weather information shown here, including but not limited to all text, graphics, drawings, diagrams, photographs and compilation of data or other materials are provided by the Hong Kong Observatory. Any reproduction, adaptation, distribution, dissemination or making available of such copyright works to the public is strictly prohibited unless prior written authorization is obtained from the Hong Kong Observatory.
Note that the e-mail address for Phil Smith (also known as "Doctor Disk") has been changed to phil DOT drdisk AT gmail DOT com with effect from 18th March 2006. To use this e-mail address, in your e-mail program's "To" field, type out the words in blue replacing " AT " with "@" and replacing " DOT " with "." so that there are no spaces. Sorry for the inconvenience, but my junk mail had passed 1,000 items per day.
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