Saturday, December 31, 2011

Gratitude: December 2011

I began the last month of the year by working out for the first two days. I renewed my annual membership at the local fitness center and won 10% off, which is lower than my friend (Hafiz) who won %50 off!!

On Saturday, December 3rd I took a couple of "new" Morris residents to Alexandria for the weekend. We first stopped at Glenwood along the way to visit the local county museum as it was FREE, which was part of an open house fundraiser.


After the open house, we drove just 15 minutes north to Alexandria to attend the annual theater performance every Christmas holiday season of "Gospel According to Scrooge". ..


*I ended up writing a blog on this play's plot after a recent conversation regarding family gatherings during the "holidays" (see Restoring Relationships on

The following day was the annual Christmas Program that many of the clients I work with at the DAC performed. This year, it was held at Firth Lutheran Church.


"Santa and Mrs. Claus handing gifts and posing with clients for pictures after the Christmas program"

Sport Update: The Minnesota Vikings continued to add to their losing season by getting defeated (on Sunday, December 4th of 2011) by the Denver Broncos (Tim Tebow, who was born and raised in the Philippines to American missionaries).

On Tuesday, December 6th my friend (Hafiz) and I attended our last Jane Adams Project (see espanol services) get-together. It was "muy" (very) festive (Feliz Navidad)...

The year is coming to an end, so I had to use the remainder of my vacation time from my full-time job. I took a 4-day weekend the 2nd week of the month to finish some "stuff" (e.g. house projects). I celebrated a ESL student of mine's birthday at Don's Cafe for a late breakfast and continued to celebrate with my closest friends the next day with her at Bella Cucina.


I spent my last day of the 4-day weekend by attending the monthly gathering (learning more about applying our spiritual gifts) at my pastor's house. We had a guest (Stu) that shared on "knowledge" and "prophecy" (see MCC December 2011 Newsletter by Jan N.). I personally got a word of encouragement on "restoring relationships" (see blog above), which was just a confirmation! Praise God!

We did more "end of the year" holiday celebrations as we had our "last" day (Wednesday, December 14th 2011) of our weekly (Wednesday's) ESL-GED classes..

The following day (Thursday, December 15th 2011), we had our annual "Christmas Tea Party" (had a record over 120 recorded guest-families, friends, etc.. of our 70 or so clients)...


My co-worker continued our tradition from last year by ringing the bell for Salvation Army. This year, we added a reindeer with us and did it for 2 hours at Pamida. One thing I really noticed compared to last year was the customers weren't as "smiley" (see Is it really the "Most Wonderful Time Of The Year ?" blog I wrote afterwards)


The third weekend of the month, I took more hours from my vacation time by having a 3-day weekend. I spend it in the cities with Hafiz as I wanted to show him my hometown where I grew up. We went to several big popular tourist places..

Friday, December 16th (Downtown Minneapolis)

Macys 8th Floor A Day in the Life of an Elf

Holidazzle Parade in Minneapolis

Saturday, December 17th (Mall of America in Bloomington, MN)


"Hafiz and my mom taking a break during our 3 mile walk around the 3rd largest mall in the world"

The last day of this weekend, I showed Hafiz the popular Summit Avenue (west of downtown St. Paul) and then more of downtown Minneapolis before dropping him off at the bus stop (Megabus-cheaper than Greyhound). Ironically, it was located across the Metrodome where the Vikings had a game with the defending 2010 Champions (Saints). They were tailgating across the street. I wanted to spend time with my niece and nephew, so I ended up playing soccer outside (40's) with him for awhile before playing games at Maplewood Mall. I then headed back to Morris for another short-week.

It was another week with more Christmas parties at both of my jobs as I didn't eat supper several times this week because of the supper-like snacks at the parties! On Tuesday, December 20th-I took a former student (Int'l student from China) along with his friends and mine on a drive through Morris to look at the various Holiday lights (the most spectacular display was the mobile homes along Lake Crystal)!

My 10-day vacation from my full-time job started Friday, December 22nd till tomorrow (Sunday, January 1st of 2012), which I would spend it "occupied". I got 42 hours right away within 3+ days (28 hours straight at one group home) with much of it "holiday pay" to help fill in the hours of co-workers that wanted the holiday off to spend time with their families. I didn't mind as I "try" celebrate Christmas "every day". I'm currently finishing my "end of the year" stuff (e.g. photos, videos, blogs, etc..) at my mom's house. It's been a great remainder 6-day vacation from both jobs as I spend it with family (e.g. open gifts late this past Tuesday when I arrived from Morris after dropping off Krishna-from Nepal-at the Greyhound bus station, watched "Soul Surfer" and other "family videos" with family (including my 7yr. old niece and 4 yr. old nephew) Wednesday, rode along with my bro's family around the Lights Display at Phalen in St. Paul, drove my mom to do various errands, etc..) and friends (will be spending time with them New Year's Eve tonight as Hafiz arrives from Ohio by bus, my housemate/renter arrived last night from S. Carolina after a 6 hour delay, etc..).

more coming & have a blessed New Year!!!!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Gratitude: November 2011

I took the same guys that were over at my house for Halloween to a tour of Alexandria. We checked out some "tourist spots" (e.g. Kensington Runestone original location, Carlos Creek Winery, etc..). It's always fun taking "new" people around West-Central Minnesota!

On Tuesday, November 8th , I went bowling with some friends at the local bowling alley. While bowling, I accidentally slipped but was able to get some pins down. This would've been a great "funniest video"!

The following day, the group home (Driftwood) I've been newly scheduled at did a "Staff Appreciation" meal at Buddies Bar & Grill (Hancock, Minnesota). I started working at this particular P.C.S group home (developmentally challenged)last month when they needed a "last-minute" fill-in. Due to some "financial challenges", I decided to accept the invitation to be on the "regular schedule" (God's financial provision!). I also want to take this time to give all my co-workers (both my pt-ft job) my personal appreciation to work this "common cause" (see Caregiver Appreciation Month).

The day after, I went to my first swim meet with Hafiz. My niece (7yrs. old) has been taking lessons too, so I've been enjoying watching her "progress" since the summer since I started watching her lessons when I come to the cities. The weekend (following) I went to the cities this month was actually her last swimming lesson (at my old high school). She is far ahead when I was at her age!!

On Sunday, November 13th-my local church in Morris had their every other month potluck. I love cooking, but there are others better than me. I brought some snacks (e.g. chips) and a drink as my contribution, but I contributed more by helping with the clean-up afterwards.

The once a month "Community Meal" was on the 2nd Monday instead of the 4th of the month due to the Thanksgiving holiday. As "active" participant of the Tuesday night Jane Adams Project (see Espanol Services), we volunteered some shifts for 2 days in preparing, helping at, and cleaning after this monthly meal. I helped out with the cleaning part, which working as a "team" made it very successful.

I'm very blessed to have some "paid-vacation" time, so I used 2 days of it during the 3rd weekend of the month. I drove to the cities on Thursday (November 17th) morning and immediately played soccer-football with my 4 yr. old nephew outside. It was pretty cold, so I had him wear my winter gloves. I then had more Mexican food for the week at a restaurant called Pineda Tacos in West St. Paul with a former housemate of mine. I love keeping in touch with my friends (e.g. housemates), which this one was a special get-together as I had a unique "prophetic" dream about him and his family.

The following day, I joined my brother's family to go "window shopping" at Maplewood Mall in Maplewood, Minnesota. It was the first "significant" snowfall of the winter season, which it was very slippery...

1st Significant Snow Fall of the Season (11'-12') on Sat. Nov 19th 2011

On my last day in the cities, I hung out with my sister and her boyfriend (early birthday present) at Target Field for a tour...

On Tuesday, November 22nd-we had our annual Thanksgiving dinner at my workplace. I would interview several or more of my co-workers (clients) asking what they are thankful to God for. I was then blessed with the extra "leftovers" (e.g. green bean casserole, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, etc..) to bless my friends I'll be hanging out this Thanksgiving weekend since I wasn't going to St. Paul since I had to work my 2nd job. It was a week of eating as the same day, the weekly Jane Adams (see Espanol Services) sponsored the 1st community potluck (at the Morris Public Library), which I brought my famous "Filipino Chicken Adobo" to share with the others. Then the following day, "we" continued to eat as we had a "Thanksgiving" theme party (along with a student's b-day and a farewell for a student from Brazil leaving for another training project in Wisconsin) for our weekly (ESL-GED) classes.

On Thanksgiving Day, I had to work the "overnight" (sleep) earlier and started cooking my small "oven roasted" (mini-size that takes only 3 hours) turkey for my housemate (Kazu from Japan) and his friend/former UMM Int'l student of mine last year. I then warmed up the extra leftovers from work and cooked a yummy ("my favorite") blueberry pie for dessert. We ate so much , so we would eat the pie after our short nap. It was so nice outside (50's) to stay inside rest of the day, so I invited the guys to play outside (e.g. playground, baseball with a tennis ball, basketball, etc..). I would continue using the "leftover" 4 days later as I hosted another friend as we (my housemate also) ate ham-roast beef (substitute of turkey).

The Thanksgiving weekend was just a small sample of what I do this in this blog as I celebrate "what I'm thankful" are year round!

more coming...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Gratitude: October 2011

The first weekend of the month ended a 4-day visit of some friends here for homecoming weekend at UMM. One of them wanted to visit the dairy farm, so we checked out one of them outside south of town. I then took them to one of the group homes I worked at just to show them where I worked at. One was interested in the work I did.

That same weekend on Sunday, it was very nice out! A friend and I went to play tennis and then checked out the 1st of a 4 Sunday series of Spanish films. I'm very interested in films of this particular country because of my family's roots (great-grandparents in my father's side). This particular film ("Bitiful") had a sad ending, but it gave a great message about compassion for family in desperate times (nearing death) and it brought up a global issues of the treatment of "migrant workers". This was very relevant to my work I and others personally do here with the ESL classes I do at the local school.

The following day, I was able to spend some quality time with my housemate as he' a very studious guy. We were able to play golf (driving range) as we try to enjoy the "last warm" days of Fall.

The next day, it was a very close friend of mine's Birthday,so some other friends and I had a small party for him. My other friend made some pie dessert crust, the other bought pizza, and I made a cake as we watched t.v. and hungout (with a bonfire) at their place for most of Tuesday night.

The second weekend of the month I went to Fargo, North Dakota for almost 2 whole days. I was invited by a church connection there to help ushering, which turned out to be a great experience (see Dream Deja Vu Experience: Scheels Arena in Fargo, North Dakota, from ...

Impact World Tour Day #3 (Fargo, ND on Sun., Oct 9th 11') -Island Breeze-Hawaiian Performance Part 1

*this is just one 20+ videos I've uploaded "so far" on youtube

It was another nice Fall day on Tuesday (October 11th), which I had an "ideal" project at my work (raking leaves in 74 degree temps)! I took a 4-day weekend vacation during the 3rd weekend of the month to spend time with friends and family. I saw the movie "Soul Surfer"(see Xtreme Sports) at the local church I attend in St. Paul with my mom and sister on Friday. The following day, I went to hangout with my brother and his family with my sis & mom at a nearby mall. That same evening, I got a rental from Red Box and watched "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader - Green Mist" (3rd movie of the series by C.S. Lewis). It was a great movie about ways to "avoid" temptation (e.g. greed, selfishness, etc..).
The last day of the weekend, I went with my sister and her boyfriend to the Wabasha Street Caves (across the river from downtown St. Paul).

The 4th weekend I took advantage of the time staying in-town by working in my car. My confidence built from last month when I had a friend oversee my work in replacing my rotors and brake pads. This time, I replaced my own spark plugs (with another friend to oversee, which I haven't done since my first vehicle (mini van) back in college (with a college friend overseeing my work during a cold wintery day)!

My workplace took their once in a blue moon trip to Chanhassan Dinner Theater by Minneapolis on Wednesday of the last month. We haven't seen a show here since 2006 (saw "Singing the the Rain"). This year, we saw "Hair Spray", which had a great message about reconciliation amongst different race groups in Baltimore. It was a great performance and awesome bus trip to and from..

I was referred by several people in the community to "welcome" a new guy in town, who is all the way from Pakistan to work at a local place to do research. A good friend of mine was able to meet him first, which he introduced him to me by coming over to my house Thursday. We chatted a bit getting to know one another in my living room before heading out to the local gym to get some exercise (e.g. bench press, basketball, soccer, and racquetball). I'm looking forward to showing him around our small rural college town community, which is part of the groups (Stevens Forward) goal that I belong too!

I forgot (updated Dec. 8th 2011) to mention my Halloween (not many would agree) outreach, which I've been doing the past 4-5 years now. I read this article about what Christians can do during Halloween. Instead of turning the lights off to avoid participating in giving candy. I decided to give juice and gum (instead of just candy) with Bible verses. This year I had some friends from different countries, another friend, and I over at my house for Filpino food and a movie (Chitty Chitty Bang and passed out these "treats" with Bible verses.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Gratitude: September 2011

I started the month with the ending of my week vacation in the cities. I was trying to spend some "quality" time with family while I was there. I played some tennis with my older sister, which I haven't done for years!! On my Saturday before I left for Morris, I had to get my brakes fixed after getting my tires (e.g. replaced and wheel bearings). It was a very expensive job and I didn't want to put any additional money from my own pocket. Thus, I decided to work on my own (with my friend's assistance)car and don't want to pay any labor cost. I the end, I calculated that I saved $200 (according to what Tire Plus estimated)!.. can read more of the story from my previous month blog (August) as I just realized I ready wrote on this part. School is pretty much in session around here, which means lots of community activities. I was invited to participate in this dialogue on ways we can welcome the growing numbers of "Spanish-speaking" residents, so I just shared my perspective (see Stevens County Espanol Services) from my past involvement with the group as a member of Stevens Forward. It's very encouraging to see how far our community has grown in this area!

In the second weekend of August, we had some 80 degree weather, which was very nice! I wasn't sure how long this was going to last, so I spent the weekend every day "playing" (e.g. tennis) outside.

On Tuesday, September 13th-I went to my annual ABE/ESL training meeting in Alexandria, Minnesota. I've been coming to this for close to the last 5-6 years now since volunteer teaching GED and English. We meet about 3 hours to share how the year has been and ways we can do better (e.g. increase student participation). The following day, I had my weekly Wednesday GED-ESL classes, which I'm very thankful to have 2 new volunteers (one is a professor at the local university, which I was a little intimidated at first because of his status. However, I've been getting more comfortable as we both work together and gotten to know each other through our stories).

My housemate asked me to use my photography and take pictures at the 2nd softball game of the season (I would take another in October too during the 1st and last playoff game). I would participate in Kazu's softball practice the Saturday after wards early in the morning (around 10:30am) for fun. It was nice playing softball for the first time since my nose fracture (see last month's blog) accident!!

I also marked down the 18th as the 1st day of rain. It was the first rain fall of the month. I'm glad I saved some rain water from my gutters of my house last month, which I used to water my crops (see Foods: Agriculture, Horticulture-Gardening, Farming, etc...) as the season ended. I was able to get some good size corn..


Every Tuesday evenings, there is a campus-community gathering called the Jane Adams Project. They had their first "kick-off" gathering on the 20th, which it was well attended..

All residents in and outside the Stevens County area are welcome to participate as it's a great way to meet the growing numbers of the "Spanish-speaking" community (e.g. many and not all are from the local dairy farms)!

Each week is a different topic/theme, so the first one was "Meaning of our Names". This was such a great topic, I ended up doing this in my weekly (Wednesdays) ESL class the following day. My students really enjoy this, so I ended up doing a blog on this-> Where did your name come from? from Goodnewseverybody's Webblog (

I spent the last days of the month hanging out with some college alumns-friends during University of Minnesota-Morris Homecoming Weekend). My friends that have been coming every year since 04' bought their friend name "Brother Max", who was an awesome guy serving the Lord!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Gratitude: August 2011

I started the month with doing continuous house work. I cleaned and repaired my gutters that surround the north and south side of my roof. This is one of the key areas that has been giving water damage inside my house. I'll see what the results of how effective this work was next Spring. I had a good first week of the month in batting in softball, which I'll share more down below.

I played tennis for the 1st time in three years on Sunday, August 7th of 2011. What too so long? I don't know, probably been busy doing other sports (e.g. softball). I like the variety. I played tennis with some of my ESL students from Brazil because they never played before. I had to take it really easy at first until one of the students (Danillo) up his playing a bit. It was another great way to spend time outside in these beautiful summer days.

I was able to finally upload a video of a theatre performance from this past winter. I thought it was such a great performance I had to share it with everybody...

"Genesis The Story of Creation to the Call of Abram of Ur" Part 1

"Genesis The Story of Creation to the Call of Abram of Ur" Part 1 from gooodnews everybodycom on Vimeo.

A cool thing happened at one of my work sites. We do some cleaning around the community and when we were doing our twice a week time at the local laundromat, it was a busy time because of the county fair in town. There were lots of "carnies" (carnival festival workers) doing their laundry. Well, the clients (developmentally challenged folks) love to talk and one of the workers seem to enjoy chatting with them (that's why I enjoy my job and been in this field since college graduation in 99')! This particular worker ended up giving my co-worker $40 dollar bill and specifically asked us to treat them. We thought this was so awesome that we ended up going to Dairy Queen after cleaning. Unfortunately, the DQ wasn't open early in the morning (not till 10:30am), so we ended up dividing the cash and gave it to the clients to spend whatever they freely want to. What a blessing! I tried to look for that guy when I went to the county fair, but never saw him to say THANK YOU again.

The big annual Stevens County Fair was during the 2nd week of the month, which I attended 3 of the 4 days it was going on. I was also involved with the 1st Annual Morris Soccer Invitational that occurred at the RFC Soccer Fields (by H20-Water Tower). I invited my 2 ESL students from Brazil, which they were only able to play 1 of the 3 days...

I ended-up playing the 3rd days because the team (UMM Team) didn't have enough players (Brazilian students chose to attend the Car Derby at the county fair). I tried to balance my time during the fun weekend by helping with my local church's fair booth. I had a great time meeting people there. I met this couple from Cannon Falls that was looking for a local church, which would be the same town our U.S. President Obama visited weeks later. I also had a great time meeting friends I haven't chatted for a long time despite we living in this same small rural town community. Also, I met several of the 80+ new international students from China that are attending the local university. The funny thing was that they asked if I was Chinese too? I had to laugh as I've never been speculated to be this particular nationality. I've been called all sorts of others (e.g. Italian, African-American, Indian, Native-American, and even a "terrorist" a couple of times). On the 2nd day I tabled, I spent some quality time with a young friend from church, which we haven't done for quite awhile. The second weekend of August was a fun-filled time!

This same weekend, I had to also share that I went to a co-worker's family's funeral. Like all funerals, I start reflecting what I've done all my life so far and want to "live it to the fullest". At this particular funeral service, they shared about how she positively impacted the people around her life until the age of 90 or so. Wow, that's long! This challenged me to live my fullest for my Heavenly Father and to make a "positive' impact as much as possible while He has me on earth as we have only 1 life!
*see Death- Grieving, Mourning, Reflection, etc..

I spent part of the mid-month cleaning and painting (special paint against mold) my basement. It was a very wet spring-summer, so I finally had a chance get my hasement dry for the first time since a long time. This was also due to some plumbing problems, which I finally got fixed by a local plumber. I thank God the amount was less than he estimated, which was a blessing financially when it came to some bills mid-month!

On Tuesday, August 16th I was able to play golf for the first time all summer. Geez, what took so long again for this too! Well, I'm not retired and old yet, so I don't play the 9 or 18-hole. I like going on the driving range. I did a small bucket ($5) at the local golf place here in Morris with a buddy of mine, which was a great time to chat one and one too in a nice summer afternoon after work.

Earlier this same week when I was playing soccer, I was playing defense (left) and tried to "head" a flying soccer ball. Well, I ended up getting my nose hit too, which hurt. This left a bruise in the upper part. Well, I would end-up getting hit in this area again playing softball..


..which caused a fracture after a homeplate "football-style" collision at home plate in attempting to just tag my opponent as I was playing catcher. Well, I'm still suffering the effects as I'm still getting over some occasional headaches. I'm praying there is no long-term damage. The best part of this is that I was able to hold on to the ball for the out and our team won to continue to advance in the playoffs. We would lose the 2nd game the following week, but it was our best finish as a softball team!

The third Sunday of the month, my local church celebrated the oldest and longest marriage (50 years) couple's Wedding Anniversary. I'm hoping to interview them and get some notes on how they've reach this successful feat sometime in the future.

My Heavenly Father answered one of my prayers right before I took a week vacation (my workplace takes 2 weeks off during the summer months-1st during July 4th-Independence Day and last week of August before Labor Day) to end the summer. My former housemate moved out mid-June and never advertised of the need of another housemate, except by word of mouth. My local church pastor even referred this guy from Alexandria, but that never worked out. I got a call from this UMM international student in a need of a place to stay. I don't even remember telling him of my rental basement as it hasn't been finished yet. However, he was open to move to the spare 2nd bedroom and "decided" to come move in (physically moved the following day) the same day he looked at it. I felt it was great timing as I was already planning to head to the cities several days later.

I spent the last week of the month in the Twin Cities. I was supposed to take my mom to the UofM-Twin Cities Campus' Dental Clinic for mouth surgery, but my mom wasn't able to get an appointment the week before the break. My younger brother invited me to go on a road-trip with his family to the East Coast (e.g. Washington D.C., North Carolina, etc..), so I was about to look up flights for a one-way back to Minnesota because I didn't want to be in North Carolina that whole last weekend. I wanted to spend some time in St. Paul before my week plus vacation ended before going back to Morris. Well, on my way to St. Paul from Morris, my mom calls and tells me "good news".."I was able to get a dental appointment on Monday". This was the original plan, so I decided to not for go the East Coast road trip as I thought was the "sign" to stay in St. Paul. I was hesitant going with the forecast hurricane (Irene->see weather) coming and recent rare earthquake. I was a little disappointed, but saw it was God's plan for me to spend quality time with my parents (e.g. River Boat Ride along the Mississippi River, State Fair, etc..) and sister (e.g. tennis). I would later find out it was a good reason to stay in St. Paul with my car problems (spent $500 on new tires because of poor brakes that I should've gotten fix long time ago. Then additional $400+ for wheel bearings. Could've spent $200 extra to fix the brakes and rotors, but watched a video online and had my friend oversee my work to fix it ourselves!=> see Financial: Automobiles, Auto, Cars, Trucks, Vehicles, etc...)). Isn't God good? We sometimes wonder why our plans don't work the way we planned or desire, but it's for our own good. During my last day of my vacation, I was driving to church and was running late. I love the praise and worship (music) part and it was in the beginning of the service. As I was just 2 blocks away, I got caught speeding..doh! :)...I was going 44 on a 30 when the police officer asked me if I knew how fast I was going. Well, he told me I was going 41..wew, I'll take that! Well, I had my mom with me and she was praying during the whole traffic stop (e.g. showing my license, registration, etc..). It seem the prayer worked as the police officer decided to just give me a warning because I had a "good' record (haven't been stopped or anything since 97'). Thank God! I told the officer then that I was in hurry to get to church and he lectured back to me-"Well, don't rush to God as God will wait for you". My mom then told the officer-"God bless you sir"-as we drove off to church "later". I arrived at church praising Him more! As I was heading back to Morris the day before Labor Day (Holiday), I had an opportunity to "share" with a "homeless guy" on the streets along an entry ramp to Interstate 94 (see "Another "Street Sign"- Homeless Guy Story: What can we do to help them?", Goodnewseverybodycom's Weblog)...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Gratitude: July 2011

I started July with a week vacation from my workplace. I used this time to visit my family and friends in St. Paul. It was July 4th weekend, so it was a "festive" time. The day before the 4th, some of my family and I went to the Mall of America. It was actully my first time at the "new" Nickolodeon Universe (replaced Camp Snoopy)...

I wanted to take advantage of the many community events, so my sister suggested Roseville. Later in the week, I took my mom and nephew (3 years young) to Como Conservatory and Park..

While I was in the cities, I got a discounted haircut (only $5) at a nearby "beauty school" in preparation for photography practice at a former housemate's wedding in Sauk Centre. I learned some new "editing" techniques, which I wished I did when I was at a previous wedding 2 months ago. I love doing this photography..

"Pictures I took between the wedding and reception"

Unfortunately the day right after the wedding, the same place I was doing some photography was hit with "straight-line" (many this summer) winds (just like this past weekend in Glenwood when I took pictures during the "Waterama" parade, which I share down below)! Thank God no one was injured or killed, but just "temporary" damages (e.g. houses and cars) by fallen trees.

I got home just in-time for the weekend festivities in Morris with their annual "Prairie Pioneer Days", which I came home late Saturday night for the fireworks..

The following day, I took pictures of the parade just almost in front of my house. It was hot, so I kept cool under a shaded tree...

It's been 3 weeks since I played softball, so when I played Tuesday, July 12th I had around at-bat. In fact, I would go hit-less for 4 games in a row. My coach put me the bottom of the batting order. However, I would go on a tear on July 26th after some self-motivation techniques (e.g. watch youtube) as I went 4 for 5. As I write this, I would go 4 for 8 twice (more detail next month) after wards in 2 separate days (2 games each)!

I ended the month with another annual community summer celebration, but this time in a town 35 minutes east here=> Glenwood, Minnesota. I picked-up a friend of mine from his parent's place and we would check out the long 2-hour parade for "Wateram"..

Just like what happened in Sauk Centere, this town was hit with "straight-line" winds. They are currently cleaning-up. Events like these just makes one more thankful to God for and to not take things for granted in life. I know Morris got their share years ago (see Storm 03'). I'm always learning to "not store things" as our time on earth is just "temporary"!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Gratitude: June 2011

Sorry, it's over half way of July as I write my month of June reflections. I'll try to not to get the "busyness" of summer prevent me from keeping up with this. The first half of the summer has been productive for me as I've been dong "late" "Spring-cleaning" all over my house-indoor and outdoors. Since my housemate (Anthony) moved out after the 1st week of June, I've been cleaning madly bottom to top of the house and still! I also got a lot my yard-work project finish after my 2 month-long drain-pipe and sump pump installation project in my basement to control water seeping there too much (came in a good time after some parts of West-Central Minnesota got "rain surge" this past weekend!)! I'll share more about next month. I found out I love landscaping (was very into a show on cable yesterday at my workplace)! I was blessed by my "new" neighbor with some perennials and other plants to help beautify my house. Also, I was able to get my garage clean after storing stuff over stuff! I celebrated this work of progress by doing my first bonfire on Thursday, June 23rd with friends-including an ESL student from Kyrgyzstan.

I entered my 4th season with the American Eagle Softball team batting lead off and playing second base (despite telling my coach-manager that I didn't want to play infield after my "pinky" finger dislocation injury last summer) far, so good..for now! By the end of June after 5 games (2 games we couldn't finish playing and 1 game we never finished because of weather...lots of rain this summer!), I'm batting. 550 and we have a 2 Wins-3 Loses record!

I did my monthly visit with family and friends in St. Paul the 1st weekend of the month and visited Choo Choo Bob (see trains) in St. Paul with family (took my 3 year old nephew). On Sunday (June 5th), I learned more about my dad (e.g. he attended three different school during his high school years) after a family visit with my sister in a local hospital (battling depression) in St. Paul. When I came home, I was able to have a great dialogue with this "guy" through this social network site who has been opening-up about his "sexuality". After some dialogue for some time, he opened up about how he live a life of lies. Thus, he was planning to stop his "double life" as a transgender!

My work sent me to St. Cloud (1 1/2 hour west of here) Minnesota for a 2-day conference to equip me more on the way I serve the physically challenged clients at my workplace. I learned a lot of various topics, which I'm still trying to apply in my day to day work. It not only was just for the work environment, but outside in every day life too. I was indoors most of the conference, so I decided to check out St. Cloud's famous gardens that people from all over the world have come to visit. I practiced more of my photography...

Munsinger Clemens Gardens in St. Cloud, Minnesota-USA (June 16th 2011)

On Sunday the 17th, it was Father's Day, which I wasn't able to spend it with my dad. However, I did call him and sent a card with pictures. I'm very thankful for what he has done and still curious and wanting to learn more about the challenges (e.g. WWII) he faced growing-up. I'm hoping to share it someday.

I ended the last week with "hanging-out" -fellowshipping with many friends (e.g. former house mate's b-day party with close friends, annual Winkelfest at a nearby lake with my local church family, bonfires,etc..). Trying to enjoy the summer days after a long winter!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Gratitude: May 2011

It's getting close to the end of June as I write this, so I decided to do my May reflection now in this early cloudy Saturday morning. I begin my reflection of May with my last vacation days of my Antonio, Texas trip. The day after the wedding, I wanted to see more of this city. I went to a Filipino-American "majority" church close to my motel and was "ministered" to on "Your Words Will Dominate My Life, from Pastor Joe of Lord of the Harvest Church" (see notes)! I had the opportunity to "hang out" with my friend's (Bride) friends. The temperature dramatically got 40 degrees colder (97 TO 57) from the "day of the wedding"! It wasn't nothing to unusual as I've experience this similar many times back in Minnesota. While hanging out at the house, we would find out the "infamous" Osama Bin Landen is dead as he was "supposedly" (see other 9-11 theories!!) killed during a "U.S. attack". I continued my own way and ignored this news like many other "propoganda" news. We would later go to this "cool" place called "Orange Leaf", which was a "make-your-own" yogurt dessert place. My eyes were literally "bigger than my stomach" as I got more than I could eat!

I returned back to Morris with a great community gathering called "Cinco de Mayo"...

Cinco De Mayo Celebration (May 5th 2011) in Morris, MN from GoodnewsMorrisInfo on Vimeo.

It was awesome to see the progress our small rural college town community has made in building the relationships with this growing "Spanish-speaking" community of Stevens County. God has grown the passion in my heart since help starting ESL classes for them back in 2004 and answered my prayer on having others in the community "jump on board"!

This month was a time of doing a lot of landscape work (see slide-show pictography) in my backyard after that 3-month long project (e.g. Drain Pipes & Sump Pump) last Fall. I'm blessed to have a great "new" neighbor who borrowed me a tiller (for the 16 square yards of black dirt in my backyard)in "perfect-timing" before the many long streaks of precipitation later mid-may. I'm just thankful to God for having this blessing and don't want to forget to share this through "hosting friends" over to hangout. The on-going house projects overall can be tiring and draining (e.g. financially), but I need to keep remembering to ask God how I can use this to "bless" others!

My housemate (Anthony) had a very significant dream that I don't want to forget myself as I was in it. We both felt it was a "warning" message from God on using more discernment on how to make use of our time and not to have "others" we feel are helping-"eat away our resources" (e.g. time)!

After practicing my photography at my friend's wedding, I wanted to try the graduation at the local college I attended...

*click to see other photos

I'm also thankful to have another part-time job, which I was able to "pick-up" some extra hours this month. I saw it as "God's provision" to meet my financial needs from the debt I created through my recent "investment" of the camera I bought and my trip to my friend's wedding in Texas. After working at the group home (see physically challenged) since graduating back in 1999, I don't really see it as a job anymore. Building longtime relationships with the folks at the group home is like getting paid spending time with "family"!

Mid-May I got an unexpected email (via Facebook) from a friend's mother, who I would later found out I was randomly picked. My friend told me that he hasn't seen his mother since she left him since he was a kid. This is currently an on-going story, so I'll update you all with their permission.

During the third weekend, I went to the cities again (three times in a month-span). This time, I had a friend (housemate) with me as I drove Friday after work to pick a friend of his flying from Arizona. I would do my favorite "showing-off my former city" of St. Paul and then took him (like many tourist to Minnesota) to the Mall of America. It's been a spring stormy season, so we encountered some hail on our "scenic-route" way back to Morris...

...I'm just thankful that we can pray and ask the Lord for protection, which my housemate reminded me in this situation. The following day, Minneapolis got hit with a tornado and caused damage that they are still cleaning-up to this day. In perspective, it wasn't bad (deadly) as a town called Joplin in Missouri. May was a month of bad weather!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Gratitude: April 2011

Spring is here...woo hoo! We had temps around the 60's on the 1st Monday of the month, which I remember noting on my "thankful" book. After the "long winter", I stated how much I appreciated the weather. I also noted in early part of April that I'm thankful for the "slow" snow melt. Despite our near record snowfall in the state of Minnesota, there were not many reported "serious" floods (see Outdoors: Spring) here or throughout the state.

Well, I got my test results of that blood test I mentioned last month, which turned out "negative" for all three major "stuff". I'm "good for now", but still have to get another one in 3 months (July). I'll keep you posted, but still try to live each day to the "fullest" and not to take each day for granted. I've been reading reports in our state that HIV cases has been on the rise, which is sad to read about. My compassion and notice on this issue has been on my radar more with my recent "blood test".

I went to an annual "steak feed" (ONLY $5!!) in-town, which I'm not really a red-meat eater. I will eat it occasionally, but I enjoy more of the "hanging-out" with a good-friend of mine and seeing people throughout the community (Stevens County) come together for this great occasion. The following day, I was able to "hang-out" with housemate and his family for a 72nd birthday party. Someone reaching that age is a big celebration and a blessing not for the individual, but also the love ones close to them.

What makes the small-town community great is the "fundraisers" that bring people to come together to help one another. My local pastor's wife raised (local high school) "enough" to help cover the high cost medical expenses. A close-friend of mine from my local church helped contributed to this after getting a long-waited timely "blessing" too. It was cool because I was asking the Lord to speak to him on how to spend this lump sum of recent "blessing". The lesson learn from this is instead of telling the person something that you might be "afraid" to tell him/her personally for some reason, just ask God to tell him/her Himself!! God's provision...Hallellujah!

I "try" to visit my immediate family in St. Paul in a monthly basis and appreciate time with them more and more as I get older. I just want to say THANK YOU sis for being a blessing (would make enchiladas for me before my trip to Texas the following week). She went along with me to a Twins game (that got postponed due to rain) the 3rd Friday of April as I got 2 tickets for the price of one (lower deck along the 3rd baseline in the outfield). I thought it would be a good treat for her since she has done a lot for me (e.g. took me to a Prince concert). The following day (Saturday, April 23rd 2011), we celebrated as family for my sister's and mom's be-lated birthday at a "new" Asian-buffet restaurant along the "famous" multi-cultural neighborhood in Minneapolis. That same day, I would take my mom to a local Asian grocery store in St. Paul to do our monthly grocery shopping when I'm "home" from Morris. Well, along the way to the store, I got a "flat". I found this out while I just came out of I-94 exiting Dale Street (north). I then dropped my mom off at the store and went to a nearby gas station to fill the tire with enough air to get me to a nearby "tire" repair shop. I would drive cautiously all over trying to find a place that was open along University Avenue and had no luck. I finally decided (inkling of the Holy Spirit) to drive to Tire Plus, where I bought these tires. Well, after 2 hours waiting, I got "good news" (no diagnosis-they couldn't find anything? Can't you believe it!)! I'm not sure what happened, but I immediately thanked the Lord in front of my mom. I know He he heals, but "automobiles" too? God knows! The last day being in the cities for this weekend was Easter, so I went along with some of my family for Easter (THANK YOU JESUS for what you did on the "Cross") service at the St. Paul Cathedral. It was fun to be with family this weekend!

When I arrived back to Morris, I texted a "friend" to play catch (baseball). We've been talking about this for the past year and we finally got a chance to do this with another beautiful "Spring-Day". The next day (Monday, April 25th 2011), my workplace had our annual "Staff-Board Meeting Supper" (ribs-yummy). I'm just thankful to have a job, but more appreciative that I don't see this a job much as I love what I do!

Probably the most memorable of April was my 4-day weekend (Friday, April 29th-Monday, May 2nd 2011) trip to Texas for a close friend's wedding!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Gratitude: March 2011

This month is my birthday, so I would like to start of by saying I'm grateful for another year of life. Life is so precious and with all the "challenges" we see in the world right now, I'm just thankful for the life God has given me no matter the circumstances I'm challenged presently or in the future. My month started with some good "getting to know" more of my friends. I had some good times where friends opened-up (e.g. email, meeting at the local coffee shop, etc..) more about their life, which it has taken years as friends. I'm thankful for the friends God has put in my life as they have spoken words of encouragement to me.

I was also encouraged to keep doing what I'm doing (writing my on-going life story through websites like these to inspire or encourage others that may benefit from your life experiences) through an inspirational movie (e.g. Antwone Fisher-see Life: Adoption) and a visiting speaker during a post-movie discussion (see Native American)during the local campus's annual event (World Touch Cultural Heritage Week)in the last week of the month. Basically, we all got a story to share and it goes to waste if we don't tell about it...

"We need to learn from history to prevent it from repeating itself"

In order to know where we are going, we need to learn our past. Some people don't go far enough (e.g. family genealogy or family tree) in the past as they stop there. How far in history can you go? (see Creation story)

I also enjoyed the "nearing" Spring-like weather some days of the month despite the first day of Spring started the 20th of March. I had the opportunity to ride my bike, which I'm going to try to do more as it reached it's highest ever for a long-time today (Tuesday, April 5th 2011) at $3.63/gallon!! Crazy, huh? We need to find ways to conserve gas (e.g. walking or riding a bike-great health benefit too with all this exercise).

I can't leave sports out of this too as it was the month of "March Madness"! It was more basketball as a nearby local town (see Stevens County) h.s. girls basketball team went to the big State Tournament. They actually beat a #1 team in the first round, which was very exciting for my workplace. Several of my co-workers are from Hancock, so we followed (via radio at work for 2-days) their local team very closely during the end of the 3rd week. Unfortunately, the lost the 2nd round, which a win would've been a great birthday bonus. I'm very blessed with great co-workers as they gave me a great celebration (e.g. pies, cake, etc..) and I ended up bringing the pies back to the cities to share with family. My family blessed me with a lunch outing at Red Lobster-great seafood!

That same weekend I was in the cities was the annual "Philippine Day" (see Minnesota Filipino Community)..

24th Annual Philippine Day St. Paul, MN-Part 1 (March 20th 2011)

Other highlights included one "Snow Day" (saw the 2nd of the "Bourne Identity" trilogy series, which I would watch with a good friend the 3rd part later in the week -see Issues: "Low" Self-Esteem, -Image, -"ish", etc... as I wrote about finding one's own "identity" in life) of the month, which happened 3 days after the "first-official" day of Spring. Went to a couple of "fish fry" with Lent season as I did some fasting once a week during the month and will continue till Easter as I "try" to seek my Heavenly Father's "calling" in this season of my life. I went to an event to learn more about Judaism, a foundation of my Christian faith! I then had my faith built more during a local radio (see Music-Hymns, Praise, Worship, etc...) banquet I was invited (along with a couple of co-workers, friend, and others in the Praise FM listening area) to as faithful sponsor for many years. Lastly, I had a great time with several new students (from Brazil) of my weekly GED-ESL classes the last week as I showed them the "new" town!

During the state girls basketball tournament, there was an unfortunate deadly earthquake in Japan. Currently, as I write this today (Tuesday, April 5th 2011), they are still battling the radiation leak of their nuclear power plants (see Science: Chemistry). Please keep these folks in Japan and their national catastrophe in prayer!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Gratitude: February 2011

February was a short month, but it was full of blessings. It was an early "sport madness" with basketball (e.g. watch T-Dub Slam UMM) and weekly soccer games integrating different groups of the community, etc...).

Also, God has been using Facebook as a ministry tool!! I got a friend that "accepted" me that I have been praying for years to respond to my add. He didn't reply to an email I sent to him after wards, but it's "small baby-steps" in building our friendship back!

I'm still continuing my "new year's resolution of keeping healthy and fit, which I recently joined another class at the local fitness center called Zumba (see body, soul, & mind)! I've been going to this every Thursday evenings, which attracts from 50-80 people. I've started to do more dancing (e.g. work) including the annual Valentine Dance at Clinton, Minnesota with 1/3 of the clients from my workplace. Just to note, this was a week of unusual "spring-like" temperatures (30-40's) as lot of snow melted. Unfortunately, we ended-up getting the snow or even more back (21st-Snow Day) with a 14-15 inch snow storm!

Despite all the snow, I've learned to deal with it by sledding-snowboarding. I had to opportunity to do so with my sister, James (her boyfriend), and niece-nephew at Battle Creek Hill in St. Paul. Also, I went with several of my former students during UMM International Student Orientation last Summer to go sledding-snowboarding-It was the 1st time for all three! (see Cougar-Tiger Hill.

I started my once a week "fast" mid-February as I shared this email (with some wording changes for confidentiality) to folks in my local church:

From: Sal Monteagudo []
Sent: Saturday, February 12, 2011 2:14 PM
To: Goodnews Everybody
Subject: Sal-power of your stories...

Hi friends-family,

I just wanted to share some awesome stories from the past week or two and I pray this will encourage you all. I've been working at my current job (Stevens County DAC) since December of 2005. I feel "opportunities" happen for a reason and I've been praying for ways to share (more of my lifestyle-"actions speak louder than words") God's love to my co-workers and the clients (mentally-physically challenged adults). He has "opened doors" for me to pray for many (e.g. healing) over the past 5+ years (relationship evangelism) and share my faith. However, I never experience so many "open doors" until the last week or two. A couple of my co-workers went from "short-chat" to "deep-conversations" that enabled me to share my "testimony" with a couple of co-workers this past week alone! Wow, God is awesome! I love to share how God has "worked" in my-life and feel we all do have something to share (e.g. a lady in my local church encouraged all of us on this with sharing our own stories) with others around us because many are looking for "hope" and "encouragement" in these days. I just want to encourage you to seek God daily on how you can be "His light". I look back and I feel my decision to "fast" (e.g. vegetables and fruits-haven't done this for awhile) earlier this week (inspired by my local church message to "seek Him") was very helpful in these "open doors". I've decided to "try" to do this in a weekly basis, which I used to do in my "early" years walking with the Lord.

Lastly, the week ended with me sharing part of my "testimony" with an international student of mine (taught during a week of orientation to 60 international students at the local university) during my 3-hour drive to here ( St. Paul ) to do my "monthly" family visit. Please pray for this student I'll call "Fay" who is currently going through some "academic challenges" (opened-up on this to me, which I feel was started through many relationship-building activities. People start opening-up to you through time and trust) that may cause her to be "expelled'. She's been to Bible studies (went to one last night at the UofM Twin Cities campus), which I feel God has been using others to "plant seeds of faith" since she's been here in the US . Isn't that awesome? We don't have to go abroad , God is sending them and others from around the world to our "backyard" or "front door steps"!! However, some of us are called and I'm praying to back to the Philippines someday!!

Feel free to email me any comments, suggestions, questions, prayer requests, etc.. relating to this.

Brother in Christ,

p.s. If I haven't really share my "testimony", you are welcome to read and share this with others. In fact, feel free to write your "testimony" and share it with me. Let me know if you would love to have me "publicize" this to encourage others (e.g. I just emailed this site and others to a couple of those that I shared with this week) because we all have different stories that can encourage different people with different situations.

My local pastor encouraged me to share stories like this at church, so I shared another story of my mom's recent eye doctor visit. The doctor told her that there was no diabetes in her eyes. She credited it to me praying with here the weekend before I left back to Morris. Also, I've been telling her how I've been fasting on fruit and vegetables once a week, so she tried it and her blood pressure was the lowest it has been.

God has also financially provided in various ways this month with my current "financial situation". I was able to be given hours from my "on-call" part-time job in various days of the month. One of the days seem to be "strategic" as one of my clients at the group home had a "death" in the family, which I was there to give him and his peers "spiritual counsel". I also did some "house cleaning" (sorting my recycle mail) and found a 2 month-old rebate check (Tire Plus). Then I found a coupon for $5, which doesn't seem much. However, it was very timely as I used to help pay for the increasing gas prices ($3.27-Cenex in Morris) for my trip to visit a friend in Moose Lake.

Protector-He was a protector during the last weekend of the month as I was almost involved in a head-on-collision (see Outdoors: Winter)going to Moose Lake from Mora. The drive back home didn't end "smoothly" as He opened doors for me to help bystanders on the side of the highway (see Are You Available? February 27, 2011 from

"My lips will shout for joy
when I sing praise to you...24 My tongue will tell of your righteous acts
all day long,...
-Psalm 71

The month ended with a great gathering of three different local churches for worship (see Community of Morris) and a guest speaker for a 2-day conference on Creation, which opened-up a great "blog" (30 comments) on Facebook!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Gratitude: January 2011

One of my new year's resolutions of 2011 is to share my gratitude review each month. 2010 went fast and it was hard to remember the "good times", so I'm hoping to do this each month for 2011. I do this to "brag about what Heavenly Fathers" does to help me not dwell on the "negative", but "positive" during daily life challenges.

Well, what were some of my highlights for last month despite the many "cold" below zero days here in Morris, MN?

-After many years since I started teaching ESL to the growing "Spanish-speaking" community in this area. I'm very blessed to see the many folks in our community taking the lead to "reach-out" to them, which I feel God has laid in my heart since I was in Mexico for a "mission-trip" back in 2001. Just some examples are the recent steady growth of the Espanol Services at the Morris Evangelical Free Church. Also, it's awesome to see a new community get-together to "bridge" this particular population through their sport of soccer, which started Wednesday, January 26th-thanks to a emerging "college student" (Great job Yuiry)!

Adult Indoor Soccer Jan27th 2011 from GoodnewsMorrisInfo on Vimeo.

-January is a big month in my family with my younger brother's birthday, parent's wedding anniversary, and my brother's wedding anniversary too! Unfortunately, I wasn't able to be present in any of them because of various reasons (e.g. cold weather, gas, financial, etc..). It was great to see that my family got together for these occasions.
-Speaking of finances, it was a blessing to see a prayer answered that's been long waited for with my house mate's "GI Bill" issue. Long story short, it was a financial blessing for him and me too as housemates! Praise God!
-Lastly, I've never feel so healthy and fit with my recent new year's resolution to be more "healthier" (e.g. not buying or as much "junk food"-> better budget) by participating in fitness classes at the local gym. I take part in an "anaerobic" class on Tuesdays and/or Thursdays after work, which a "new" friend (Scott-met through the "Espanol Services") and I started together in the beginning of the month. It's been a great way to meet other people in the community too!