Sunday, December 10, 2006


Been thinking about how I always have "interesting episodes" involving elderly people. Aside from the first one, which I try to laugh at myself w/, the others are ones I really want to record down before I forget about them.

1. Most recently, while in HK, I spot a nice tote that I think would work really well for bible study. I walk a little ways away to show mom, when this old lady stops me and asks,
"Where did you get that bag?" I point her to the general direction.
"Are you wanting that bag? Can I have it?"
"Yes [when I really meant "back off!!!"], I'm keeping it."

Hahahah, sorry lady, go hunt for your own stuff. Also made me think, "Are my tastes really old-lady style?" Hahaha. For example, I like to look at stuff from Anthropologie, or vintage stores (though not necessarily buy from there), but my friends prefer Puma, or sporty-inspired stores. Go figure. Or maybe I can comfort myself by thinking, "She was probably thinking of getting that for her granddaughter." Let's hope this is the case, hahaha. Should mention also that there was a sale during that particular weekend, so the HKers were crazier than their usual selves!

2. Met a teacher at the City Hall cafe Maxim, for the first time. Only saw pictures and heard of her, but never met her in person. She was so warm and funny, showed me pictures of her family and grandkids, and told me her daughter-in-law (was it? some family member) is the president or something at Fossil. That was pretty cool. And when we said goodbye, she gave me (or I guess we gave each other) the European kiss.

3. Back in October, we're celebrating a friend's birthday by going to the Italian restaurant Mona Lisa, in San Francisco. Waiting for the restroom when the old lady behind me asks if I'm Japanese. Turns out she is Italian, but her son-in-law is Japanese, and she is so proud of having multi-cultural grandkids (also half-Brazilian half-Italian ones). She just starts talking a lot about how Italians follow the mom's side when it comes to cooking traditions (I really wish I remembered more about our perfect conversation about the different clans). Their table was celebrating a birthday as well. Before she leaves, I thank and hug her as if we've been old friends, hahaha.

4. At j-supermarket, I'm going through the checkout when the Japanese old lady behind me asks me, "Nandeska? [then thankfully in English] What is it?"
"It's milk tea. It's really good. And what is that?" [I point at the plant that she's buying]
"Oh....that is uh....root."

Well, that wasn't too bad, was it? So see, interesting encounters w/ people occur every day. Just have to keep your eyes open, and be ready for it whenever it happens. The ability to laugh at self is also very useful as well. That means that you are comfortable w/ yourself and won't be surprised at others' jokes at you when it happens, bc you already know the weird things that make up "you".

I'm trying to bunch all the old-people-encounters I've had this year, so they can be in one place. Ha ha ha . What I learned is to trust in God every day. Prep for the day by praying before going out. Then God blesses every interaction we have, and we've more awareness that it is actually God working, and not us laboring at air for something. Of course there are ups and downs, but God never fails and His mercy has never depended on our human level of faithfulness. That is good news.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Hong Kong Revisited

Sounds like a book, don't it? Well, maybe I'll write one, if I've time to shape my thoughts into words. Give me n number of years, hahahaha...

Well, just returned from my trip to HK. I think the strongest feelings I got were: 1) No more fear interacting with the locals, and 2) No more sadness about not being a local.

Sound complicated? Well, here's a breakdown of 1): as I've been telling a million different people already, HKers are so much nicer now! They're friendlier and more courteous, especially people in sales and restaurants. So that is a wonderful thing on all accounts. Other nice things: cleaner in general, automatic faucets in restrooms ("just like France," my confident cousin Sylvia would say), pier is still beautiful, the peak is breathtaking... I'm sure I'll think of some more things to say.

2) Not meant to be negative, but positive. The sense of lostness that I felt so strongly six years ago is gone now. Don't know why. I guess back then, I hadn't come to grips that HK is no longer my home, but the U.S. is now my home. Now, I've let go of all that. In other words, when in HK, do as the HKers do and have fun! Enjoy the local atmosphere and conveniences. Back home in the U.S.: back to my own identity, free to be the rest of myself beside the HK part. Being truly global is one of my dreams (and possibly future goal in life)--to develop an inner calm and be comfortable in virtually any environment.

I think these thoughts are more significant in comparison to the little stuff I did every day, interesting as those were. You can be happy in any geographical area, provided that you have a reason to live and a goal you can work toward, and have a close relationship with God.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

no trespassing

Passage: Acts 16:6-10
Verse: When he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. (Acts 16:10)

"No Trespassing!"

You're holding a tourist map, all geared up and ready to go. You've made up your mind to revisit that tourist attraction spot, and on the way there, you keep imagining how beautiful the scene will be. In the end, however, you either take a wrong turn, or is it the map's fault?--so when you get there, what stands in front of you is this surprisingly huge mountain.

You just stand there, and in addition to feeling so disappointed, you also don't know what to do. At this moment, God presents a challenge to you: "Do you want to know what lies behind the mountain? Do you have the courage to climb it and take a look?"

"OK," you say, "why should I turn back now?" Finally, you take the winding path and reach behind the mountain. In front of you lies an unimaginably picturesque view. You stand at the top of the mountain with the vastness in front of you, and you're too excited and happy for words!

Somehow, one way or another, we've always fashioned life maps for ourselves, whether for short-term use or for the long haul. You've had it all planned out, and you're striving for this goal you've set for yourself. Apostle Paul did exactly this. For many years, he spread the gospel in Asia and had a heart for the churches there. He had planned to return there to strengthen his fellow believers. Moreover, he was already getting old and thought Asia was his last stop. However, God challenged him to go to Europe to evangelize. Turns out that God's Kingdom spanned a map that was much much larger. From the pioneering work of Paul, plus the hard work done by countless missionaries, today the gospel has reached almost all the corners of the earth.

When you get rejected by your dream college [ed. or receive any "unanswered" prayer, for that matter], instead of asking yourself if you've worked hard enough, or question whether God has been fair, please remember you can only see a very blurry picture. God, however, has the complete blueprint of your life in His hands. Are you willing to let Him guide you to what lies ahead?

Meditate: The Lord is my best thought. Awake or asleep, may He be my guide.

[The above was one devotion I just did while in Hong Kong. Translation by me, =D.]

Thursday, October 05, 2006

orange pop up

Update: turns out my cousin still needs many prayers, because there're still three spots in his lung, plus gall bladder stones. Please join me in prayer for him! I sent a quick e-mail to his daughter (my cousin once-removed) saying I'm thinking of them.

And interestingly, she google-m's me! It's my first time using google chat. Pretty cool. Very small window keeps the chat simple but effective. I forget that we're only 1 hour apart. It feels like she's in the next room...

This has been the excellent answered prayer that's happened today.

[Late 2007: My cousin came to be w/ the Lord at last. I heard that he really enjoyed the extra time he got from many of our prayer prayers, to spend with his loved ones before leaving Earth. I've since learned to pray for dying people like this: "Lord, please extend this person's life so that they can have more breath to praise, honor and glorify You!! So that those around them can recognize Your healing power!! Can the dead sing praises to You? Can those in the grave worship You? Since they cannot, please hear my prayer to give life to this person, just as You have delighted to give us spiritual life for all eternity." Turns out that God has answered my prayer for him. If God likes this kind of prayer, I might use it again in the future. =)]

Friday, September 29, 2006

start of winter

Hey, winter seems to be just around the corner... been getting chilly lately. This morning for breakfast I had the world's best instant oatmeal. This coming from me is surprising. I usually dislike oats since they're so grainy. This kind is unusually smooth though--almost tastes like cream of wheat. I like the Maple and Apple varieties.

Also, it's easy to make: just fill half-full w/ hot water, then microwave for 30 seconds, then 20-s increments so it won't overflow. Then add milk. What could be a better no-brainer than that?

Heheh, irish oatmeal from Trader Joe's--the perfect complement to any winter-chill morning. [End commercial.]

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

chocolate: experiences

Recently, I bought a bar of Meiji 99% cacao chocolate, thinking it would make a surprising gift for mom, right? Well, it did surprise her all right, but not quite in the way I expected it to. It was bitter, which was expected, but it also tasted dead, almost salty! Argh, this happens because it's in Japanese! I should've seen some of the writing I could read, but I decided to ignore those. Well, there're always times when you buy something totally unedible. You just have to let it go and treat it as a learning opportunity. I used to freak out about mistakes, but these days, I'm beginning to think that an adequate dose of wrong decisions brings you closer to your desired destination.

But sometimes you take a detour. Some days later, I bought a Dagoba organic chocolate bar, "infused" w/ lavender and blueberries. "Cool," I thought.

Or so I thought.

Yes, it was very good dark chocolate, but afterwards I had a splitting headache! At least it felt like one because I haven't had one in ages. I even had to sleep w/ that headache. What a bother. Sometimes spontaneous purchases/food experiments leave you worse off than before. However, courage in trying new things in itself should be applauded.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

good news

Praise Him that He has been working mightily--my cousin's cancer has shrunk a good deal, and the doctor says it's pretty much a miracle. The hospital staff will be monitoring the tumor to see if they can arrange for a liver transplant to be done. Praise God for answering prayers!!

Life really is so fragile. It's a good time to pause and ask what's real important in life, then go ahead and pursue those things. I've decided to cut all the crap that takes up my time and leads to nowhere. Then pick up on the projects I've neglected, even if it means dragging my feet a bit in the initial stages.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Peace in the Easter storm

Recently, we heard that our cousin was diagnosed with cancer. I really feel for the family and was struck at the fragility of life, and how sometimes a too-easygoing attitude about little pains in the body translates into poor health management.

I've been corresponding with the daughter a lot, who is also my cousin (but once-removed or something like that, I can never get it straight) and sent her a book that I received before I graduated from college, before I was hit with the anxiety pangs of job-hunting. The book really reminded me of God's presence, and I pray it will help my cousin-friend as well.

Just an interesting tidbit to share: when I went on Amazon to order the book, I was bombarded with "recommendations" to buy tons of Hebrew dictionaries! Nothing but scholarly-looking book covers with Hebrew designs. It took me a while to realize that the last purchase I made was the Hebrew textbook I ordered for my college class, which was a long while ago. Now it made sense!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

/grammar >_<

Just finished proofreading a friend's paper today. It took some time, but I was happy to help. I don't think I'm good at many things, but I know that looking at grammar is something I can do. It's nice when a community of believers can support each other in different respects.

It's funny when I don't think I'm awfully smart, but there might just be some out there who think so! Incredible. Well, for every good result in school and otherwise, I've had to work really really hard and burn some midnight oil. So at least I'm unlike those who can party all night and score pretty high grades. I'm just thankful for every good thing that comes from above. In the end, I can't control what others think or do.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Weekday joys

First week of work has been a dream. Regular hours, time to sit down, free drinking water--yup it's a dream. Had staff lunch today and got to hear a lot and see a lot at the office. Everyone has been a kind soul, which is so rare these days. Can't be anything but God's gift. This week's been peppered with choir practice for the upcoming big performance of Messiah selections. We're collaborating with high school students, and I'm just amazed that they're so talented for being able to execute the music at their young age!

Saturday, April 01, 2006


It's Saturday today!! So excited because no work, and no bible study training yet. So went to Mitsuwa--the Japanese supermarket in the morning. So many fond memories there! Hoarded two packs of Royal Milk Tea (thanks C for recommending it--it's really good) and Bourbon Chocolate mini wafers. Altogether a very satisfying and refreshing day. Perfect timing for a break, and I did genuinely feel relaxed.

Friday, March 31, 2006

There's a Catch

Last day at Peet's today. Got some snacks from Trader Joe's for all of my co-workers. All of them have been really friendly, and many were sad to see me go. My manager especially--she's so kind-hearted. Some assured me I can always return! Haha--actually I haven't learned how to make espresso drinks yet. But now I'm much better at standing on tiptoe to stir the coffee grinds, and I do know how to brew good tea...

The other item God ordered for me, which wasn't on the menu I gave for Him, was the chance to serve in His Kingdom work. Before I heard about any full-time job, before even experiencing God's giant victory over every obstacle, the teaching leader for bible study invited me to be a discussion leader. This was in the beginning of March.

So surprised! Honestly I didn't expect any of this to happen. I only started attending the bible study for a few months--certainly I wasn't at all familiar with how they organized everything. How can I help out?

Then when everything else happened, I knew. God wanted me to take on the job, take on the role of leading bible study--both--together.

Although I knew what God wanted, I did not understand. How would I devote adequate time and energy to both if I did them simultaneously? Didn't make sense, right? I had no choice but to follow.

This was God's divine interruption, and one of His interesting Catches to life.

---Woh, my mini bamboo plant just came crashing down! No worries, only spilt a bit of water. Pretty windy tonight...

Thursday, March 23, 2006

No menu for God

Today, I decided to spill the beans to my manager and give everyone 1 week's notice before I leave. Yes, I've chosen to leave Peet's and work in the full-time job! In all ways this is the best decision.

I've been thinking about why I got an offer so unexpectedly and quickly, seemingly out of the blue. If I really had to come up with a good reason, I guess it all started in February of this year.

The job-hunting process was painful and slow, and I didn't like the fact that I wasn't really doing anything to show my faith in God. Being led by the Holy Spirit (I thought it was my idea at first, but I'm sure God directed my thoughts) to donate a certain sum for His kingdom work. Since everything I have belongs to God anyway, I have nothing to lose. I want to trust Him with my future.

Immediately, my friend e-mails me "randomly" and tells me about her upcoming short-term mission trip! Something amazing was happening here. I quickly told her about how my heart was moved, then made my donation to fund her trip. Initially, I didn't act too quickly, but God really pushed me and shouted in my head into acting on the promise I made toward Him!

So, God usually doesn't choose from the items on the menu He made. Rather, He orders special dishes not from our menu, to surprise and perhaps delight us. Another not-from-the-menu order coming soon...

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Peet's Journal--Hot and Cold Clash

Whew! Long day today. Endless people rattling off orders before I can punch in the correct buttons! And can't believe my normally experienced co-worker spilled cold drinks three times--once onto a nice warm coat that a stylish girl was wearing. Cold sticky stuff onto expensive wool material--yikes not good. Must take these days strong, good or bad.

Peet's Freddos. Yum

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Peet's Journal--Cinderella Weekend

Felt like I was Cinderella for the whole weekend. Lots of sweeping and "elbow grease". My first official two days at work (with tips) began yesterday (yay!). Many of my co-workers told me to take off the "training" sticker from my name tag, but sometimes I sneaked it back on during the busy times of the store. The customers were usually more forgiving this way.

Long day today. After church, had to rush over to work. It's good practice on my customer service skills though. All in all it's been a great molding for me as a person. For example, now I'll remember to say "thank you" when someone serves me at a store, because I know how draining it can be to be nice/courteous all the time to people who couldn't care less or who are too busy with their errands to be polite.

Work starts early tomorrow! Good night.

Friday, March 17, 2006

A Visit

Had another day off from Peet's. Yup, it's been a very irregular schedule. So made plans regarding my full-time employment opportunity.

Arrived at the company of my future employment this afternoon. Got acquainted with the general stuff that I'll be working on. Saw my future boss and we had a good chat. I guess I "passed" because he declared me "pleasant" and seemed very pleased with what he found. The amazement about how smooth everything has gone still hasn't worn off yet. Praise God for preparing everything, knowing how I'm so lacking in the job-hunting arena.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Something very interesting happened this afternoon. Was enjoying my consecutive 2nd day off from Peet's when the phone rang in the kitchen. Who should it be but a good family friend (I call him uncle but we're not related.) In his usual enthusiastic and rapid way, he invites me to join his team and work for him, since one of his trusted employees is leaving soon.


My first reaction was shock. I've been searching for a full-time job for some months, and the searches have all ended in disappointment. What has God planned now? I was truly amazed. Funny thing was, I tried to make it realistic by asking about the specific responsibilities of the job--he assured me that I'll be able to handle everything well, plus I've got time to train. I guess I must have sounded like a wet blanket, but he was never discouraged or dissuaded at any moment in our conversation. Looking back, I really thank the Lord that despite my completely unprofessional approach to the whole thing, the friend still wanted me to join his company. It's so crazy that it just might be part of God's plan.

This is God's tweak in my life.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Peet's Journal --Morning Madness

Worked the 2nd morning shift today. Can't believe there're sooo many people needing coffee in the morning! Really crazy. My first time using a register, but I got the hang of it pretty soon. My co-worker said I'm doing great! Encouraging. Don't know the pastries yet (since only the customers can see the labels, and all the scones look the same to me :D), so stayed on the register. Everyone on my team was very supportive. Got a bit familiar with the touch screen menu when ringing up items, because had previous practice on GPS (thanks C!) which is also touch screen.

Caffe Mocha with Garuda coffee is excellent, and ordering Caffe Latte when they're using Espresso Forte coffee for their espressos is also very good.

If you're a customer, the best way to order is:
1) type of drink (Latte? Mocha? White Mocha? Chai? etc.)
2) size (small/medium/large)
3) type of milk (nonfat/lowfat/whole) and type of foam:
flat=no foam--new term to me!
dry=only foam and no milk--another new term
light foam, extra foam, etc.
4) your name if ordering an espresso drink

BUT, people usually say:
I want a small......let's see.......nonfat extra foamy latte.....wait, make it a medium and lowfat instead.....what's that? it's alexandrina jones....
[that's why we always repeat the customer's order for clarity.]

I understand now why espresso drinks are so expensive--it's personalization and the subsequent skilled labor to make the drink! I get it now.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Peet's Journal--Beans

Worked the afternoon shift training at the bean counter today. Got to scoop up different coffee beans for customers, weigh the right amount, and grind them with one of the 3 giant grinders that we have. The customers were generally very polite and relaxed, I guess since it's the weekend. Knew how to do everything, except when they asked "which coffee tastes like ___?" or "I want something light. What do you recommend?" Then my trainer would answer these questions.

Closing the bean counter required so much energy! Lots of cleaning and hurrying around. It was especially hard when customers needed help one minute before we closed! Now I'm exhausted and must sleep. Good night. Praise God for a real sabbath with no Peet's work tomorrow!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Peet's Journal--First Week

1st few days of work at Peet's has gone well. After lots of reading/studying and note-taking about the parts of a coffee bean and the bean picking process, my first time out on the floor was restocking condiments, i.e. replenishing the sugars, napkins, etc. Such a fresh experience! Had to weave in and out of the long long line of customers quite a bit. Really tested my courage!

Yep, the shifts at Peet's change each time I work. Good part is that I can have lunch with my college friend after training, at 1pm yesterday. Bad part is that I've to remember when I've to go to work every day, and when I've a holiday! I've to note everything down on paper and make a mental note before I go to bed every night.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

God's victory in our city

Last night, I was on TV! Heehee, no joke. But actually, this isn't the reason why I'm still so excited. I was part of a large team that made a presentation to the City government for a Christian cause, and our plan passed! Praise God for working His miracles, for using insignificant people like me, and for answering our friends' prayers. I understand a bit more the saying "My eyes have seen God. I will tell of Your great works." because this time, I really did see God at work, making Him very real. Whenever I sing the hymns "You're the victorious God," I finally understand what that means. When we as a group held hands and prayed aloud in a circle after the triumph, my eyes started streaming w/ tears - I could not stop. But I didn't try to stop them, because they were tears of joy. =)

God let me have a few hours rest after work before going to the City meeting! Everything else pales in comparison now, even my recently-acquired job. Or rather, all the other aspects of my life are magnetized towards my enlarged understanding of God--He who does the impossible so His plan will be accomplished, who makes beautiful sense out of everything.

What's next? I hope I won't slow down in my pursuit of God, but that this spiritual victory will propel me onward. It'll be hard, but I have God beside me.

Friday, February 10, 2006

40's the magic number

I feel my mind is at a thousand different places today. Don't know why. Perhaps it's the changing weather. Time to store away the heater and down!

Highlight of the day: inspired by my lovely friend, I got the chance to reread Isaiah 40. It is truly one of my favorite passages, especially the NASB version. You know, Messiah opens with exactly this chapter, since it sets the stage like a luxurious carpet, where God is the central star character.

My excellent conductor from college expressed that you end up understanding the bible as a whole quite a bit after hearing the complete Messiah.

I can't agree more. The beauty in the Isaiah passages really shines through. Try bringing your hand up high or down low according to the instructions in Ch. 40 and see.

I'm looking forward to singing Messiah again this spring.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

News from PNG

I've just been e-mailing with my friend who had worked in Papua New Guinea on bible translation. Her native translator person (her only reliable one) had sadly just died from a serious illness. Before he died, he had struggles with his faith in Jesus and wanted to be healed by "magic." So, she has flown over there to pick up the pieces and await God's redemptive plan for the people in that area.

By hearing this news and praying for her, I got better perspective on my own spiritual walk with God. How blessed I am to be living in the U.S., to have such freedom in worshipping God! How cool it is that I have the complete bible in my hands within easy reach, so I can read it any time I want.

It is nice to have friends living in hostile environments, because by praying for them, God strengthens you as well. He teaches you to ignore Satan's voice telling you to forget about the bible and your honorable identity, and don't bother about praying because God doesn't care. He does care, and the only way to defend yourself in this spiritual battle is to be armed with God's Word and prayer--to re-establish bonding with God today.

Poetic truth

An NBA player sneakily steals the ball (unfair!) and hurries to the other end of the court to make an easy fast break... but misses the basket (yes!! poetic justice.)

I have a found a similar concept to this poetic justice that has been helpful to me. Whenever I feel down and it is virtually impossible to attain positive thinking, I try to find one shred of light somewhere in that mess. That is what I call Poetic Truth.

I find that often this is the only way I can be positive and truthful at the same time. Without it I'll surely disintegrate.

Major is...

You scored as English. You should be an English major! Your passion lies in writing and expressing yourself creatively, and you hate it when you are inhibited from doing so. Pursue that interest of yours!





























What is your Perfect Major? (PLEASE RATE ME!!<3)
created with

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Trash: from mourning to dancing

Someone stole our trash can. Once every week, we take out our trash cans to be emptied. And in the morning, our lovely medium-sized trash can was replaced by a mini one.

I mean, it could have been anyone. That happened last week, and we thought one of our neighbors just made an honest mistake and that we'd get it back this week.

Didn't happen.

Praise God that the city heard our story and will give us a new trash can! Isn't God great?

I will try my best to keep my trash can safe from predators from now on.