Sunday, 4 April 2010
This weekend, I went to the International Student's Conference organised by InterVarsity at their "Campus by the Sea" campsite on Santa Catalina Island. It was awesome, just to be able to retreat from the everyday hassles of life and to just devote our time entirely to God. The campsite, as the campsite suggests, was right by the sea. To be able to just admire the beauty of God's creation was just breathtaking. I was fortunate enough to spend part of Saturday kayaking, snorkeling and hiking around the camp, to admire this beauty. Right now I am struggling to find words to describe how beautiful this place was, imagine how much more beautiful and awesome is the creator who made it.
This weekend, I was reminded of God's amazing grace and his everlasting love for us. Especially since this was Easter weekend. We are broken people, we ran away from our creator and our father. We were dead in our lifes, in our transgressions and sins. We decided to do it our own way. But God's love is just so crazy and amazing, it defy's all human logic. God chose to save us, to lead us from death to life. He did this by sending Jesus to live a perfect life on Earth and to die on the cross and then to rise again.
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found
Was blind, but now I see.
Today, after returning to the mainland, we decided to go to Koreatown to have Korean BBQ. It was during this time, I experienced my first earthquake. I didn't realise that there was an earthquake going on until Kim or Esthela pointed out that we were swaying side to side. It was a very surreal experience. The swaying wasn't violent at all, it was like a gentle sway from side to side. It wasn't until after I returned home to Santa Barbara that I realised how serious this earthquake was. It was a 7.2 magnitude on the richter scale and it occured just across the border in mexico.
Thursday, 1 April 2010
Over the past few years, I've been through highs and lows...going through different seasons. I have questioned why this or that has happened in my life. But even through all this, God has always been with me. As I am writing this, I m reminded of the footprint poem:
One night I dreamed a dream.
I was walking along the beach with my Lord. Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life. For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand, one belonging to me and one to my Lord.
When the last scene of my life shot before me I looked back at the footprints in the sand. There was only one set of footprints. I realized that this was at the lowest and saddest times of my life. This always bothered me and I questioned the Lord about my dilemma.
"Lord, You told me when I decided to follow You, You would walk and talk with me all the way. But I'm aware that during the most troublesome times of my life there is only one set of footprints. I just don't understand why, when I need You most, You leave me."
He whispered, "My precious child, I love you and will never leave you, never, ever, during your trials and testings. When you saw only one set of footprints, It was then that I carried you."I have always had trouble trusting in God 100%. I will always say that I trust in God, but did I trust in him fully? No. Did I worry about my future? A lot. However through various events and just studying the bible at BSF, God has taught me a lot about trusting in him. His providence never fails, He has plans for our lives far greater than the plans that we have for ours. God never leaves us, He carries us through our troubles. Why? Because he loves us. God loved us so much that He was willing to send his one and only son to die for us, so that we can be redeemed from our sins and be able to have a relationship with him. We did not deserve salvation because of our transgressions and disobedience, but yet He sent Jesus to save us. His love, mercy and grace is so great and it lasts forever. This year's theme at ACCF is "Seek ye first the kingdom of God...". This has been very encouraging. We should seek God FIRST in everything we do, in our classrooms, on the sports fields, when we hang out with friends etc. and then everything else would be added unto you. We should be spending time with God and giving our best times to God. Recently, I heard this from two different talks and I feel that it is very applicable as we are called to give our best for God. We should set out our best time of day for our devotional time with God. This could be in the morning, afternoon or even in the evening. You see, I'm not a morning person and I'm not very awake during the morning, and I do my devotionals during the morning. However am I giving my best to God? In the same way, are our conversations with a half-awake person beneficial for them or to us? No, because I wouldn't be able to remember what had happen.
Over the past months, I feel that God has been teaching met alot about and given me a heart for mission. Often we feel that mission is about going to a place thousands of miles away to a foreign country to preach the gospel. This is true, that God calls people to foreign countries to do his work. However mission does not start in that foriegn country, it starts everywhere you go. It starts in your home town, in your schools, on campus, on the streets, or even in your own house. We are called to love our neighbours. The greatest commandment that Jesus taught us was "Love your God with all your Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength and the Second is "Love your neighbours as you love yourself". These two commandments are interlinked. In order to love God, we must love our neighbours as well. Our mission must be intentional as well. Over the last couple of months, the story of Jesus visiting the Samaritan woman at the well has popped up everywhere. I had learnt a lot through this. First, that God's love is sufficient and it is for everyone. His love and salvation is for everyone. The Samaritan woman was the "ultimate outcast" during her times. She was a Samaritan, she was a woman and she had had five husbands. However Jesus still extended God's Love and Grace to her. In the same way, we have to extend God's Love and Grace to those we consider outcasts of this world. Secondly, mission must be intentional, we must go to those who are lost. The Samaritan woman did not go to Jesus, Jesus went to her. Jesus crossed all social lines of the day to reach to her...He went into Samaria, He started a conversation with a Samaritan, let alone a Samaritan woman. These were all social no-nos during those days. In the same way we should reach out to those who are rejected by this world. The church must go to them. One other thing that has been challenging me over the past couple of months was my prayer life through talks, bible studies and events that has occured. A lot of the time, I find myself praying for myself, for my needs. But how often do I pray for other people? Not often at all. God calls us to intercede for other people. Moses did it for the Israelites in te desert when they sinned against God. Jesus constantly did it and continues to interced for us. So shouldn't we intercede for other people?
Having said all this is useless without action. I feel that a lot of the time we say all these things, but do we act it out? Why are we so afraid to express our faith, to reach out to people about the good news of Jesus and the salvation, love and grace that He brought us. Why do we treasure our earthly things so much when they are just so temporary but the treasures in heaven last forever? Recently I have seen how short and how fragile life on Earth is. So why are we putting off God's work when we should putting it first? I struggle with these questions and many more. Recently I have been reading Francis Chan's "Crazy Love". A chapter he had was about the "lukewarm christian", I found myself ticking off all the boxes as he explained the criterias for being a "lukewarm christian". Is my life living out for God first or am I living for myself first and God second? Even with all these failures, God still loves us the same through eternity, His love never changes.
Thursday, 25 March 2010
So this is my very first spring break....I've been having a lot of firsts doing my time in the States. However I've been having an amazing Spring Break.
So this Spring Break I decided to go up to San Francisco for a few days. I was able to catch a ride up with Justine...Thanks!! I stayed with Joshua in San Jose.
The first day, we decided to stay in San Jose and not go into San Francisco since we were both tired from finals week and from the 5 - 6 hour journey up. I managed to sleep a long time...only waking up at 12.30pm. So we decided to take it easy and go to the flea market. It was pretty interesting, it was a typical flea market with lots of cheap things to buy. We walked around for a couple of hours and played in the arcade there. I also had my very first corndog. The taste was pretty interesting, I liked it but maybe I think I'm gonna stick to hot dogs for now. After the flea market, we went home and played fifa '06.
After Church, we took the Caltrain into San Francisco. The Caltrain took a little more than an hour to get into downtown San Francisco. I wasn't able to catch much of the scenery since Josh and I were having an in-depth talk about British History and the Alternative version of British History. This interesting talk caused time to fly-by and we were in San Francisco in no time. We were met by Wendy at the Caltrain Station. I owe a big Thank You to her for showing us around. We were warned that we would be walking alot and we walked a lot as we were taken on a walking tour of San Francisco. We walked from the station to the AT&T park, where the San Francisco Giants played.
After taking some photos, we carried on walking along the embarcadero, going past the even numbered piers and underneath the bay bridge and finally the ferry building, Interesting fact: Even numbered piers are to the south of The Bay Bridge and odd numbered piers are to the North.
The ferry building looked like a typical late 19th century ferry building. Inside, it was turned into a small shopping place with a lot of speciality shops, ranging from mushroom shops to gelato places to salted pork. We decided to try a small patisserie. Wendy and I tried the chocolate and vanilla cream cupcake and Joshua tried the macaroon (pronounced "maroon"). They were a bit heavy for a typical hot californian day but they were delicious nonetheless. Afterwards we walked down market street, just looking at the buildings and the main shopping street. There were some old style buildings and it reminded me a little bit of Manhatten. We turned onto Powell Street where we saw the cable cars, but we didn't go on one since it was too expensive ($5 for a single journey!!!). We then walked across union square and then up the hill and through the tunnel into a completely different world....Chinatown.
Chinatown reminded me of Hong Kong, as it was set on a hill and there were a lot of chinese people. The most chinese people I've seen on one street without a white person in site outside of Asia. We stopped and rested for a while in Chinatown where we had boba tea, egg waffle (雞蛋仔) and popcorn chicken. The boba tea had a lot of flavour, they had used the really strong HK tea...I Like! The popcorn chicken was awesome as well. The egg waffle wasn't as nice other one's I've tried but it was still decent. I also had some dimsum on the go in Chinatown. After Chinatown, we walked through little Italy and then up the very steep Telegraph Hill to Coit Tower. The view was amazing. I was able to see the downtown area, the bay and golden gate bridge. Afterwards we walked towards fisherman's wharf, where we concluded our walking tour and had clam chowder at the world famous Boudin's.
I stayed in San Jose after a tiring day in San Francisco. We decided to go shopping at Santana Row and Westfields Valley Fair. Santana Fair is like The Grove in LA. It's like a posh outdoor shopping centre/street. We played chess there as well. It was a gruelling game which took about an hour. In the end I manage to prevail, but only just. It was a close game. Afterwards we went to have lunch. We wanted to go to The Cheesecake factory because neither of us have been there but then decided against it because it was too expensive. We then went to watch Avatar 3D as I haven't seen it yet. It was an OK movie but the 3D was pretty good. It was very long. In the evening we went to play mini-golf with Daniel Yeh. It was fun and I was able to put my golfing skills to te practice.
I go into San Francisco for a second day...this time all by myself, to explore the weside of San Francisco. I arrive in downtown San Francisco. Having decided to walk to the tourist info. at Powell & Market, I set off on foot. On my way, I stumble upon a very large building with what seemed like a garden on its roof. I decided to explore this intriguing building.I found out I had stumpled upon Yerba Buena and the Yerba Buena Gardens. With its distinctive views of the city and its relaxing atmosphere, I decided to take a rest. I soon as i set down, I was approached by two people. They started asking me about the Bible and Chrisitanity. I didn't know who they were at first, but I told them that I was a Christian and what I believed in. They then prayed for me, it was an encouraging start to the day. Afterwards I found out they were from UCI Epic and they knew someone who I knew who was from UCI Epic. After this unique encounter, I went on my way. I bought a one day pass so that I can take the public transport. I took the bus to Golden Gate Park. Golden Gate Park is a very large park in SF, its kinda like Central Park in NYC. At the gate, I was set upon by a couple of guys who offered to sell me weed, which I promptly refused and carried on walking. Inside the park, there were many tribes sitting partially hidden by the bushes smoking weed and playing the guitar. However as I got further into the park, there were less and less of these tribes sitting around and became more and more of a touristy place. During my explorations of the park, I got lost in the botanical garden, with its boundaries fenced off, I could not get out. Finally, after 30 mins of searching, I found a way out. Afterwards I took the bus to the final frontier of San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge. After exploring the Golden Gate Bridge, I went down to Fort Mason and Ghiradelli Square, where there was a lot of chocolate. Then I took the cable car back to Union Square to do some Shopping.
Saturday, 28 November 2009
After 19 years of life on this Earth, I have finally experienced my first thanksgiving. This is because Thanksgiving is only celebrated in America. I have enjoyed it very much. Thank you all who have made it such an enjoyable experience.
Since the start of the week, I have been in holiday mode despite having two days of school left and a test to do. The festivities started off with my first thanksgiving dinner, the AACF potluck thanksgiving dinner on Monday evening. I had an awesome time with all the food and the turkey and the ham, and especially having fellowship with brothers and sisters. But the food was awesome too...ate a little bit too much. I am just thankful for all the brothers and sisters and all the friendships I have made in UCSB, for making my time here feel like a home away from home. After the dinner, a few of us went to watch "Inglourious Basterds" at the IV Theater. They had 3 previous screenings already but when we got there, there was a massive queue to get in. I guess this was because it was the last screening. Fortunately we made it in, but only just. The film was pretty good, it was a typical Quintin Tarintino film wit lots of violence in it.
I came back down to LA on Tuesday night. I am very grateful for my cousin, for driving all the way up to SB just to pick up so that I don't have to take AMTRAK or greyhound. Also for my aunt, for letting me stay with her. On Wednesday I met up with my two uncles, Alan and Calvin and two other cousins, Amy and Michelle. We had brunch at a congee place. It was so good tasting chinese food again....especially congee. Afterwards we went to play Badminton, which lasted for more than 4 hours. It was fun but tiring. Then we went for dinner at Coconut Bay.
Thursday was Thanksgiving Day aka Turkey Day. I woke up early to go with my cousin to his Church's Turkey Bowl. This is where we get together to have fellowship with each other and to play sports (kickball, flag football, and ultimate frisbee) to work off some of the calories before putting them back on later in the day. After Turkey bowl, we returned home to find my uncle Alan already cooking the turkey. The smell was soooooo goood!!! Four hours later....my first official thanksgiving dinner! We had Turkey, Stuffing, Cajun Style Quail, Mushrooms, Salad and Sweet Yam topped with marshmallows. It was delicious.
On Friday we met up with my uncles again for yum cha because my cousins Amy and Michelle left their cameras at my aunts place and they were returning to Arizona that day. Afterwards we went to my Uncle Calvin's house to say bye to Uncle Alan, Amy and Michelle and to look at my Uncle Alan's dogs, Amaretto and Halluteen. They are a German Shepherd and Husky respectively. They were big dogs but also the most gentle dogs I have ever seen. My uncle took them in after an animal shelter had rescued them from abuse. After saying my farewell to my uncle and cousins, we went to Brea Mall to do some shopping. Since it was my first thanksgiving, I had decided that I wanted to experience what Black Friday Shopping was like....then I realised that if I wanted to experience the proper Black Friday sales, I would have to wake up and start queuing in the middle of the night. So I decided not to and just went in the afternoon. It was still extremely busy as Black Friday represents the start of the christmas sales season. Afterwards Lynnette, Garrett, Karissa and Jon picked me up at the mall and we went down to Irvine Spectrum to watch A Christmas Carol 3D at the Imax theatre. The 3D was awesome.
What I am thankful for:
- God for His Love, Mercy, and Grace; for His Son Jesus; for His provision and taking care of me through my ups and downs.
Setting aside all the food and turkey, my thoughts on Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving like most other major holidays have been heavily commercialised. Thanksgiving originated when the pilgrims crossed the Atlantic and settled in America, it was to Thank God for letting them survive a harsh winter and also for the harvest. Now its been made into just another holiday.
I think Thanksgiving is great. It's a time where were are thankful to God for his provision and providence. He gives and takes away, so we should be thankful. But instead of just being thankful on one day of the year, we should be thankful to Him every day of the year. For His Love and Mercy and Grace. For His Forgiveness, His Son Jesus and the Cross. We sould be thankful everyday that we are still alive and not dead. For everything He has provided and will provide for us. I think Thanksgiving is a great holiday and it should be celebrated as we should be Thankful to God. However I don't think that Thanksgiving should be the only a day where we give Thanks But also a reminder that we should give thanks to God every single day.
Monday, 19 October 2009
Last Tuesday was the first time I saw rain in months. And it rained torrentially...it wasn't actually bad at all but the Californian drainage system just can't cope with rain. Most of the roads were flooded and how I so wished that i brought my wellies. Seeing rain triggered some mixed emotions, On the one hand I was kinda happy to see rain again after such a long time, on the other hand...wasn't one of the points of coming to California was to escape the British weather? Tuesday was also the day my sister came to visit....maybe she brought the British weather to California with her?
I also took my driving test on Wednesday as my sister took a car up here. I failed by one minor fault. = ( But the driving examiner does not know how to drive or Californians drive differently from the UK (not talking about driving on the other side of the road but on driving techniques). Apparently to pass the driving test in California you should be using the hand cross-over technique for steering, accelerate when your approaching traffic lights, only look backwards and not look around for dangers when reversing, and also drive as close as possible to a parked car on the road as possible instead of keeping a safe distance. In the UK, if you do any of these things on the test it would be an automatic fail but apparently in California you would pass the test. = S
On friday, I went down to LA with my sister for the weekend as my sister was leaving on Saturday and it's my cousin's birthday this week. After class, we drove down, taking multiple stops along the way. We stopped at the Camarillo Shopping Outlets and at The Grove. All in all it took us 8 hours to do an 160 mile journey due to the stops and the very irritating LA traffic jams.
Today there was a gunman scare on campus in the afternoon. I didn't find out about the gunman until I got to my afternoon class. We were waiting for the TA, who was teachng the class for about 10 minutes and he still hadn't turned up. Then someone checked their emails where there was an email from the TA that he was stuck in North Hall and the class was cancelled. And then a friend texted me that there was a gunman in South Hall and to stay away. Despite the warning I decided to cycle around South Hall as it was adjacent to the building I was supposed to have my class in. South Hall was surrounded by CSOs and police officers guarding all the entrances. It was quite a surreal scene as campus was eerily empty as i guessed that received the warning email before they left home while I only received it after I got home. I later found out that the "gunman scare" was that there were reports of a man allegedly with a gun on a top balcony of South Hall shouting at students and threatening suicide and that the intial investigation has indeicated that there was no actual threat.
Wednesday, 23 September 2009
As I didn't have a place to stay for the weekend because my apartment move-in date wasn't til the monday, I went back down to Orange County. Also it was Lynnette's Birthday over the weekend. We went to Maxim's Cafe in Rowland Heights with Lynnette and her family. It was nice going back there with the massive portions of food! = P I was especially surprised by their souffle. I wasn't expecting to order a souffle in a chinese restaurant let alone being very tasty and massive. But then again, they served portions of chips as well. We then went to a Boba (Bubble Tea) place for boba despite already being extremely full from Maxim's. I was craving for it though ever since I got to California. Afterwards we went to Lynnette's place and we watched a Thai movie called "Chocolate". It's a Thai martial arts film. It's about an autistic girl who learns muy thai and all sorts of martial arts by watching tv and living next to a muy thai school. She then goes on a rampage of beating up her mother's debtor's, as her mother used to be an ex-gangster, in order to get money to treat her mother's cancer.
On sunday, I went to church with Lynnette. It was my second time there. The church is quite small and it has a family like feel. Everyone knows each other and they are very friendly. Before the worship service, we had Sunday School. Every Sunday, they would have Sunday School for all ages. It was quite different from CCiL and other churches I have been to. It was like back to when I was a kid where there was one person at the front who did all the teaching. While other churches, it was more discussion based. After the worship service, we had a mini party for Lynnette. It was good meeting people and it was quite amusing watching them trying to "echo" my accent.
After the party, I was "absorbed" into the Woo family without really being given a choice for another family celebratory dinner. This time we were joined by Lynnette's cousin - Karissa and Tiffanie. But first we went back to Lynnette's house to watch Ponyo - I fell asleep about halfway through it- not that it wasn't good it was just that I was too tired, but its about a magical fish who falls in love with a boy on land and she wants to become human but her father disapproves. It's kinda like a Japanese version of The Little Mermaid. What followed was kinda a crazy night. It involved going out for dinner at a bakery kinda place in Yes Plaza - the food was pretty nice and we had tapioca drinks for desert, flicking a paper dumpling at each other to see which family's blocking method is the best, Lynnette, Karissa and Tiffanie hijacking my camera (The pics and vids on facebook are pretty self explanatory) and watching clips of insanely high pitched but incredible male singers on youtube.
Wednesday, 16 September 2009
The journey took around 3 1/2 hours due to heavy traffic going into downtown LA. Gosh!!!...they have to sort out the traffic here - maybe a congestion charge would do or maybe not. It was an interesting site driving around LA, on the one hand you had the beautiful blue skies and the sun shining down on you and on the other, you had an extremely thick layer of smog just sitting on the horizon. After my uncle drove through much of the LA traffic and exactly halfway to Santa Barbara, we decided we were hungry and stopped at Jack in the Box in Thousand Oaks. It was my first time at Jack in the Box and I actually found the food ok...I ahd their chicken, cheese and bacon burger. For the remainder of the journey, my uncle decided that I would drive the other half of the Journey to Santa Barbara. It was a really good drive with mesmerising views...After passing through some very steep hills, you are suddenly hit by Oxnard, CA...and then by beautiful beaches and the glittering ocean on one side and mountains on the other. It was a shame I couldn't take pics as I was driving.
I met my first roundabout in the states today at UCSB, which was exciting. there's an astonishing amount of roundabouts on campus for the USA....especially for bikes. The campus itself is pretty big and very nice with the ocean on one side and mountains on the other. It seemed very empty today as people were not back to class yet. After settling into my temporary accomadation, we went for a self guided campus tour. It was like a normal university that you would find in the States...lots of buildings - apart from the fact that there's a lagoon there, it's right by the sea and two beaches next to it. We also explored a small part of Isla Vista, mainly looking at where the shops are and at Del Playa. Del Playa Drive is the main party street...apparently its manic and chaos down there on most weekends and especially Halloween.
Me at the Beach with Del Playa overlooking it.