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...