Monday, December 24, 2012

Gratitude: November 2012

I started the month with some "challenges" at work, but it got "better" throughout the week..praise the Lord! For the first weekend, I drove to Alexandria for our seasonal training (ESL & GEd), which was a "productive" meeting/training time. I took advantage of the 40 minute drive out of town to get some kitchen cabinets for my remodeling project in my basement apartment. I decided to take a break from staining the new kitchen cabinets and attend the weekly Saturday worship-fellowshing gathering called "Journey". I actually stayed for the teaching and it was ironically on "Spiritual Warfare", which came in a good time before going on my trip overseas. The following Sunday, I went to the weekly Sunday afternoon "Spanish-service" at the local Morris Evangelical Free Church. I asked for prayer for my "vacation-mission" trip to the Philippines this month, which it always feels "good" to be covered in prayer by as many friends and family of believers. I also, asked prayer request from my local home church (Morris Community Church), local radio Christian station (Praise FM), my other "home" radio Christian radio station (KTIS 98.5 FM, which sends emails when someone reads your prayer request and will be praying for you), and other numerous friends. I definitely felt the prayers as I share about why I did need it (see down below).

My second week was pretty "busy" as I had a lot going-on before heading on my two week trip. I was hosting a friend (Geordan, UMM Alumn- Filipino who helped with the UMM Cougar Football team, from California) at my house the 1st week of the month as he needed a place to stay before flying out of town after renting a nearby apartment in a monthly basis. We would hangout together with a couple of other Filipinos on Tuesday (Election Day-Congrat to "re-elected" President Obama) evening at a local restaurant as a "good-bye" party for Geordan. The following day, I helped a friend (UMM Int'l student from Japan) learn how to drive, which we've been doing this for over a month now each week for an hour. He's definitely progressed! On Thursday, I attended a UMM Alumni-Current Student gathering at Pizza Ranch, which I sat with a weekly paid UMM Student "worker" (watches the kids of our students in our ESL/GED Classes) and his friends. It was good to catch-up on the current student life, which he and I shared our similar interest in WWII History. The next day, I drove home (St. Paul) after work to get ready for the "big-trip". I spent Friday night and Saturday morning packing as we would carry 4 "carry-ons" and 4 total "check-in" luggages. I thank my sister and dad for driving us to the aiport, which was 60's (F)-"springy weather" when we left Minnesota (gas prices only $3.12 or so)... In the middle of the month, I spent two weeks (10th-25th) in the Philippins visitng relatives. I had so much to share that I decided to just put the link (above) of my 2-week journal of My Philippine Trip.

My highlights are hard to just pin-point to just some, but overall visiting relatives and them taking me "almost" as many places they can during my short two-week trip. I have so many pictures (see travel pics-videos of the various geographical places in the main island of Luzon alone!) ofthat I can't share them all here. Feel free to check "some" on the site above, but here is an album I created of the many delicious ("masarap") foods I tasted there.. has links in the caption below the pics to tell you where I ate it. Enjoy! Below is an email I sent (Wednesday, November 22nd) to those that emailed me that they were praying for me while I was in the Philippines....

"Kamustaka/hello family in Christ,

I'm currently back in Valenzuela (suburb of Manila) after extensive travels (some 8 hour drives in congested 2-lane roads through towns/barangays). I've been trying to upload as many pics as possible for relatives (private facebook group) and facebook friends. Thank you/Salamat for your replies of praying for this 2-week trip, which I've felt the prayers. It's been a faith building trip as I've been trying to ask God daily how I can be effectively used in "such a time as this". I feel this will be just one of many future "mission trips" through words of encouragement. I just wanted to personally update you all on some of what God has been doing.. *password: (email me if your interested)

Above are pics of an unexpected opportunity to share the "Good News" with some children (neighbors that just walked in the house) as I was just "chilling" while my mom greeted "old friends" in her hometown (Labrador, Pangasinaan-similar to Morris, Stevens County-located also 3 hours from the capitol). I like to keep anything "bible related" at my workplace (recycling center), which some children bible worksheets (with games) came in handy during this trip. I was able to teach the children and praying "seeds of the Gospel" were planted.

An awesome unexpected eye-opening praise report is my grandparents' (mom's side) old house i(down below) is being used for a Sunday "Bible-believing" (born-again phrased by my Uncle) church service. They are renting this place from my uncle, which I'm praying for "God's provision" for them...

I'll have more to share later (e.g. dreams of back home-St. Paul, USA, etc.. that has been very vivid) when I come back. Anything I can pray for you ? I've been trying to pray for you all back at home, especially during the long road trips around this country. I've been watching/hearing news of the on-going "war" in Israel, which I have a video I'll share later too related to the Philippines. Have a blessed Thanksgiving holiday and have fun with the cool weather by enjoying the snowy sports, which I'm actually anticipating (e.g. snowboarding) when I come back!

Prayer "warrior" for christ,
p.s. I've updated this site with more videos and pics, which I'll try to add more as I have 3-more days here. Please continue to pray for me in these last-three days (e.g. including my mom, whose been struggling with lowering her constant high-blood pressure-> thus me being a health freak! :)


I arrived around 11am in the morning Sunday (Minnesota time) after leaving Manila around 8am (Philippine time)...just like a 3 hour flight!! When I got home, I was excited to share some souveniers and pictures of our trip, but I got "jet-leg" tired. I took a power nap before driving back to Morris as I told my boss I'm willing to work the overnight (sleep) to help fill-in the "open hours" since I was gone for 2 weeks and many of my co-workers filled-in for my shift (just like right now as I'm working the Christmas holidays since we are 1 staff short as he'll not be working till the 15th of next month).

It was a post-holiday(Thanksgiving) rush driving "home" (Morris, Minnesota) on Sunday, November 25th. There were cars going back to "college" along the I-94 stretch to Alexandria. I stopped over at Taco Bell as my "first" food back to the States!

My clients at my work would repeatedly tell me "I missed you" on my first day back, which shows how compassionate the clients I work with-just like family! It would take 3+ days to get over my "jet-leg" as I couldn't sleep the "night shifts" (also because of being woken up at times for meds) and I would have long "power-naps" (over an hour) after work. I spent the rest of the last week of November "uploading" the many pics from my 3-different SD Disks (2-8GB's and 1-16GB's) till now (Tuesday, December 25th 2012) to my photography online sites and journal of my trip (just finished yesterday)! I hope you enjoyed reading this and surprised if you read this far in this long month journal. God bless!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Gratitude: October 2012

We started the month with some nice weather (80's) in the beginning of the 1st week. I took advantage of the nice weather on the 2nd by cleaning my gutters. I did many other house projects (e.g. indoor) as I was targeting my goal to finish before I left for my big trip next month to the Philippines. I've been working on my basement most of the week after work and needed to take a break Satuday evening, so I attended the 1st "newest" fellowship gathering called "Journey". It was awesome! It was like a praise-worship concert in a intimate environment (lights were off) and they had a great fellowship ("goodies") time afterwards. ..

The 2nd weekend, I went to a friend's bonfire at his backyard. It was a great evening to be outside in this fall weather. I had a great time "fellowshiping" with other friends there too. The following day, I had to get up early to visit my friend at Moose Lake, which another friend joined me for his first time. I enjoy the "fellowship" during the 4 hour ride to and from. It was nice to have someone tag along in this long drive.

It's that time of the year, so I did some raking on the 15th as most of the leaves has fallen in my front yard. I would get a homemade apple pie from another "friend", which was so thoughtful of her.

I had a "miracle" (answer to prayer) that happened to me on Thursday, October 18th! It might not be considered a "miracle" for others, but this was for me! As you know, I like taking pictures-videos for my blog here and websites. I lost one of the three batteries for my digital camera. Well, it came in a bad time because I was heading to my 2-week trip to the Philippines and didn't want to spend more money on buyging another one. I decided to just take the 2 batteries I already had for the trip. I was riding my bike and somehow I decided to look down in the ground by my stairs (side of my house) and saw my battery laying there! It's been through some rain storms and was able to "survive"! It "bulked-up" (fattened) a little, but was able to fit in my camera and work!...Praise the Lord!

I went to the cities the 3rd weekend to help my brother and wife move some stuff. It was a great family time! On my way back, I dropped by Menards in Alexandria to pick-up two kitchen cabinets to help finish my basement apartment.

It was such a nice fall day at work, so took out the tricycle to give some clients rides during my lunch noon hour. I was trying to "take advantage" of the last remaining beautiful fall weather before winter comes.

I have been so busy finishing my basement that I haven't had the opportunity to visit Jane Addams (Tuesdays at UMM's Imholte Hall) this semester much. It was good to visit (23rd), which was a unique time as MPR (Minnesota Public Radio) was in town to do a "story" of our group. They have been traveling around the area (e.g. Fargo) doing stories of how the growing "Spanish-speaking" community is assimilating in these parts of the state-country.

I attended "Journey" the last Saturday of the month and was thankful for a "friend" that went to for the first time was "touched". He was so touched, he asked me if he could go to church with me the following day. What makes this awesome is that his family are not regular church goers as they probably just go only during the holidays. His family was open for him to come with me to my local church the following Sunday.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Gratitude: September 2012

I went to a Cougar (University of Minnesota-Morris)'s first home football game on Saturday, September 1st. Unfortunately we lost 37-31, but I had the opportunity to participate in a half-time show (won a field-goal kicking contest and beat other kids and a couple of college students-not fair :().  I went home to work more on my basement using my "new" mitre saw, which replaced a cheap "Tool-Supply" brand.

On Thursday the 6th, I volunteered at the annual "Welcome UMM Community Picnic" at East Side Park..

. The turnout was lower than expected, so I was given 3 different buckets of  "homemade" cookies. Like last year, I decided to bless others (e.g. neighbors) with this "extra blessing".

The weather was still "summer-like", so I hosted a BBQ at my backyard  as a farewell for my housemate (Kazu). He invited some of his friends and went inside when it got dark earlier now. I then would drive Kazu to the airport that weekend as he would head home to Japan until next semester. We ended up hanging out in the Twin Cities doing various "cool stuff"..

Twins vs. Cleveland Indians Baseball Game

Apple Orchard (15-20 minutes west of Stillwater

The following day, it reached 88F, so I took advantaged of the "summer-like" weather by playing tennis. The next day, it reached 95F! The third weekend, I had a friend (Chris) helped me lay carpet in my basement apartment. Within a week after "hot-summer" like weather, it reached a high of only 54F on the 17th. It was our first frost of the season, which is great for the apple trees!

It was UMM Homecoming Weekend the third weekend of the month, which I had a couple of friends (Shannon & Joey) over for the weekend. It was also the same weekend of my local church (Morris Community Church)'s 30th Anniversary Picnic Celebration at East Side Park..

On the 26th, I attended a community gathering by CURE (based in Montevideo) on "issues" we as a county would like to address. It was very informative and currently working on some of these topics (e.g. soil reuse in farming, recycling, and ways we can "welcome the growing Spanish-speaking community") that were addressed.

I went to the cities again for the 2nd time this month to pick-up a friend/former housemate (Anthony) of mine. I took advantage of this time to hangout (e.g. played soccer) with my "now" 5-year old nephew as it was his birthday earlier this month. On our way back to Morris, I took Anthony to this cool nature center in Dayton, Minnesota to view some beautiful fall colors (changed early this year due to the dry summer) in this time of the season in our state..

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Gratitude: August 2012

I started the first weekend of August to this "pump-up men" telecast (via satelite) conference at a local church in town on being more "Courageous " (just like that movie) as men. It taught me to put away "boyish" (childish) stuff (e.g. behaviors) to be more of a "Godly-man"!

On Thursday, August 9th-I took a friend (former UMM Alumn) to the local Stevens County Fair to "catch-up" on things since he was going to school here. Despite the smallness of his event, it was a good environment to socialize and "chill"!

Second weekend of the month, I went to the cities for a variety of commitments. I drove a friend (int'l student from Korea) with me, which made the trip more enjoyable. We went to this Korean restaurant (Sole Korea), which I highly recommend. Then we went to visit my family in St. Paul, where I helped lay carpet at my parent's house (one bedroom only). This was the first time I ever did such a house project, so it was a great learning experience for me. The following day (Saturday), I helped my dad bring some stuff to my uncle's new place. Then I took my friend from Korea for a tour of my hometown of St. Paul. We stopped at this annual "India Fest"...

... I met up with my housemate/friend who took a vacation, at the airport. From there, I brought him to meet several friends (UMM Alumns) to mainly see a close friend (along with her husband) visiting from Texas. It was a great UMM Reunion! Lastly, this weekend in the cities meant a lot to me as my family and I celebrated my dad's 75th birthday. We did a small party for him as my brother and I contributed a small potluck (along with my friends from UMM-Morris)! Our softball team advanced "a little" in the softball tournament again this season, Despite our regular "rough" season, we started the tournament with 2 wins in a row (lost the 1st one in a "forfeit" because of the "lack" of enough players, which was due to the Stevens County Fair. Lot of our players were invovled in a botth and commitment to be there.) The first game was probably the best game of my softball career (production wise) as I went 2 for 4 (2 RBI double, and 1 RBI triple), which I caught a shutout (won 20-0). It was my first time playing catcher since my "nose fracture" accident last season. We ended-up losing the 4th game of the tournament (won the 3rd 13-5), which I sadly went 0 for 3. I ended-up going back to the Twin Cities (Wednesday, August 15th 2012), but I didn't have to drive this time as I rode a coach bus with my workplace to Chanhassan Dinner Theatre to see the play "Xanadu". It was a great performance and nice treat from work! We went back to Morris in rough weather as there was a "hail storm", which many came back to see some damages (see pics and video)! It wasn't as bad as it could've been worse-Thank God! I would play pick-up baseball with a couple of other friends the following-day because it was a beautiful day. We would play more pick-up baseball several more times before summer ended. The 4th weekend of the month, I went to the Twin Cities for part of my 1 1/2 week vacation from the DAC. I had to work my part-time job the 2nd half of my vacation from my full-time job. I would go to the Minnesota State Fair with family on Friday, August 24th 2012. It was a farily warm day, so we brought bottle water. The kids (my nephew and niece) got really tired, so we stayed there for about 3 hours or so. I was also in the cities to do my first videography gig. I was invited to video taped a beauty pagent, which I'm still currently (Saturday, September 29th of 2012) finishing editing the project. I was able to do other family time (e.g. play Tennis with my sister, fix the toilet in the upstairs bathroom, with my dad, etc..) and close-friend time (e.g. help paint my new friend's house) during my 5-day visit. During the rest of my 1 1/2 week vacation, I was able to accomplish a lot of work (e.g. put new landscapging bricks for a side-sidewalk along my garage, multi-media projects, etc..) while in Morris. I brought a "little-friend" to help out with the annual community "humanitarian" event-"Feed My Starving Children" (see Social Issues: Homeless, Needy, Poverty, Poor, etc... ...

Monday, August 27, 2012

Gratitude: July 2012

I began the first week of the month with my annual week summer break from my main job (DAC). I went to my first Minnesota Twins game of the season, which we won in a high-scoring 10-8 "see-saw" game against the second last place team (Kanas City Royals)!..

Twins vs Royals Game Highlights 2012

I spent "quality-time" with my niece and nephew as we did variety of activities: nearby park/water park (during the July 4th when it reach over 100 F!), local library, etc..

I had to get back to Morris early as I had to work my part-time job (group home) on Saturday the 7th. It worked out timely as I was able to help and participate with my local church parade float at the Hancock "Indpendence Days" Parade..

I helped passed out these small bubble makers. It was fun walking with friends from church on a beautiful sunny weekend around the small-town!

During the second weekend of July, I participated in the annual summer "Prairie Pioneer Days" by getting some good food (pork sandwhich from a new booth) at East Side Park. My friends then wanted to go to Lake Minnewaska (Starbuck beach), which I sat and watch since I went swimming to "keep cool" (90 degree weather again) the previous day (at the Regional Fitness Center). I ended the weekend by going to another Minnesota Twins game (2nd within a month/week!), but unfortunately they loast (agains the Oakland A's) and it was a "challenging" time with my work as we fought the crowds "looking" for a couple of people at times (long story). I'm just really thankful to God that the trip ended well!

The following day was another "heat wave" (over 90 again), so I decided to contact some friends to check out the water park in Benson (20 minutes SE of Morris).

It was much cooler perspectively the next day, so my friend-housemate (Kazu) and I went to local golf driving-range. I was able to hit it between the 2nd to last flag (200+ yeards)-it was a good golf day!

The next day (18th), it finally rained (short downpour) after almost a summer month without any! Praise the Lord for another answered prayer, which was needed after a good corn crop (past knee high by July). We would have more precipitation (showers) on the 21st, 24th, 25th (t-storms), etc..

In national news this month, there was an unfortunate shooting..yes, another! This one happened at a movie theatre in Colorado. As of today (August 27th 2012), there has been many more afterwards: shooting at the Empire State building in N.Y.C., mall shooting in Texas, etc.. It's people w/guns that kill people, not guns!

In international news, the Summer Olympics started in London, England on Friday, July 27th with a beautiful opening "comical" ceremony.

I ended the month by taking a couple of friends to the largest parade in west-central Minnesota-Glenwood's Waterama..

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Gratitude: June 2012

I started the month by playing tennis later in the evening because the weather was too hot earlier in the day. I played with a couple of friends of mine as we worked on our power serve!

The first week of the month started with some graduation open houses, which I did my special photography to create a personal photo card to some graduates...


On my way to my 2nd open house on Saturday out in the country (going to Alberta area), I accidentally hit a pheasant that was walking across the highway. It was my 2nd time I've hit this type of rural prairie bird. This time, I didn't suffer any damage (grill was smashed in my old Chevy Blazer many years ago, which happened also out in the country going to Fergus Falls). I it thought it would be a waste to just leave it sitting on the middle of the highway, so I decided to go back and bring it home. I decided to cook it that night as it's fresh "meat" (see photos)! I googled online on how to cook it and ate some of it that night!'s ok.. I would eat more later in the week, which I wished I cooked some wild rice next time.

After another graduation open house the following day (Sunday, June 3rd 2012), I worked more on my basement. I spent close to 3 hours on setting-up the kitchen sink.

On, Monday, June 4th, a high school buddy of mine had his 2nd baby. Congrats dude!

Summer is usually quiet at our weekly ESL/GED classes at the local elementary school. But, with the help of the recently newly formed Jane Adams-they connected us with their students that were attending this past school year. Since the 1st week of June, we've been getting students from the local dairy farm each week!

The 1st Kiwanis Talent Show of the month was on Thursday, June 7th. I decided to try something new this year by taking pictures and videos of this great community event. I planned on going each week no matter how busy I am as I wanted to be consistent. There are so many people that miss this event week by week and it'll be nice to have a place where they can watch what they missed each week....

I was able to play the 2nd game for my softball team after the show, which I would end up batting 2 for 3 (2 singles,1 run).

It's been so hot lately that I decided to mow late in the evening on Friday after work. I then treated myself by going swimming at the local fitness center as my way to relax after a long week.

For the second weekend, I took a couple of friends (Eric & Kazu) to Douglas County for this "Dairy" event (invited by an active volunteer of our weekly ESL/GED classes) ..

We took advantage of being in the county by checking out Carlos State Park, which I've never been there myself. It was "ok", which I thought would be more fun if I had kids.

Then as we down back to Alexandria, we last minute decided to check out Casey's Amusement Park..

On the following Sunday that same weekend, the weekly "Spanish-speaking" church had a bilingual service..

It was great event to unite both church congregations for the Morris Evangelical Free Church. They had a potluck prior to the service, which was a great fellowship time. Unfortunately, there were not many folks from the "Spanish-speaking" church during the potluck. However, as you in the video above, it was a great turnout for the service.

I went 2 for 3 again on my softball game on Tuesday, June 12th. I'm averaging 1 game a week only as I told the team that I want to play just a reserve due to my accident last year. However,I get tempted to want to play more, but trying to play it safe.

"A couple of friends performed a great worship song"

I went to the cities the 3rd week of this month to help my dad around the house. He's reaching that age that's hard for him, so I helped him with tearing down an old exercise bike and little erands around the house. It was good father-son time with it being Father's Day weekend. The following day, we took my dad out for dinner (Grand Buffet-Chinese food), but he ended up paying for all of us without us knowing!

I then went geo-caching for the 1st time since a long time! My sister and her b.f. invited me to join them in West St. Paul. I was able to do my other hobby of photography as I took scenic pictures (and videos)as we walked around the neighborhood. It was getting very cloudy, so we started to head to our vehicle and got a little showered. This was nothing compared to what was to to come later on.

That same day going back home to Morris (while listening to the longest game so far at Target Field-15 innings), I ran into some "turbulence". I drove through a storm between Pope and Stevens County....

I started the 4th weekend of the month by playing baseball (hitting, fielding, and catching) with some buddies (Chris & Kazu). It was fun to enjoy a Friday night.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Gratitude: May 2012

I started the month by going to our regular Adult Basic Education training (ESL & GED) in Alexandria, Minnesota. After, my friend and I went to Menards to pick-up some ordered carpet for my basement. We would find out there was a tornado or severe t-storm that hit a town south of here (Melrose), which I was more thankful for missing this system going to and from Morris. We would arrived in Morris after they got hit severely too.

The following day, we had some more students (ESL & GED) that had their last day of classes. We celebrated (had ice cream cake) the last day of 2 from China. We were very fortunate to have these two as they were attending the local university for just this year and they wanted to learn more English by coming to our weekly class. It made me feel more special with their desire to come to our clases.

Then on Thursday, May 3rd-It was the annual "National Day of Prayer", which I watched a internet live stream from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus. It was encouraing to see young adults on fire for God

On Friday, May 4th-I launched "Sal Photo-Videography" group on my facebook account, which I felt would be a great way to "show off" my past, current, and future photo-video work. I decided to upload pics from last year's college graduation and one short video as my first album.

I'm thankful to God for a successful surgery (e.g. throat) that my mom had on the 4th, which she was able to leave home the next day after resting over night.

On Sundays, I've been attending 2 church services (1st-local church and 2nd-Spanish serivce). I was very much blessed in both services. The first one, I had a friend that shared about "prayer" and how we need to be challenged to "pray" more effectively by seeking His desire. In the second one, it was cool to have a friend that I haven't seen for 3 years come to the Spanish-speaking church service as she returned back to Morris recently.

My housemate (Kazu) graduates this week (Saturday, May 12th 2012), so we did a pre-BBQ party at Clayton A. Gay Hall. It was fun celebrating..

The graduation was outdoors, so I was looking forward to taking some better pics then last year..

Following the graduation, my housemate/renter (Kazu) and decided to do a post-grad BBQ celebration in my backyard. It was great weather and thankful to God for another nice day for another BBQ!

It was Mother's day the following day, so I made sure I called my mom as my Dad took her out to Red Lobster to celebrate. At the Spanish church service, we celebrated Mother's Day by doing a BBQ outside-guys grilled!

The next day (14th), I finally had the chance to start my garden (see pictures). We had an early thaw, which many folks around here already got theirs started. It was good to get it going as I planted old corn seeds and many other plants that were given to me for free from co-workers. I would do more yardwork the following day, which was much cooler (70's compared to 90 the day before).

I went to Duluth the 3rd weekend with Kazu as I dropped a couple of friends visiting a family member in Moose Lake. We did a quick tour of the city as I was able to hang out for only and hour before going back to Moose Lake to pick up my friends.

The last weekend (Memorial Weekend) of the month, I went to the cities to help with moving (stuff from my mom's to dad's). It was an unfortunate move because of the mortgage, but "good" came out of it as it brought my parents (see on-going family re-building story) back to living together. more..

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Gratitude: April 2012

It was April Fools day on the 1st Sunday of the month and I was able to do "fool" some close friends after church when we got together at Taco John. We were talking about a friends' daughter's up-coming wedding and I decided to pretend I was engaged. I was able to get them for about a minute until a friend realize it was April Fool's Day!
I did more work on my basement by working on my staircase (e.g. priming and sheet rocking). I would do this on Monday through Wenesday of the first week. God provided more funding for this on-going basement project as I got called to fill-in on my part-time job. I did the over night shift, which works well! My workplace had a special Easter mean on Wednesday (4th) as we try to some special meal before the "big" holidays. I ended up going home (St. Paul) the following day with the 3-day holiday weekend. I had a yummy Gyro at the famous Clearwater stop along I-94 (between St. Cloud and the Twin Cities) before heading home. Not as good as Pappy's in East St. Paul, but still good!
On "Good Friday", we celebrated my mom's birthday. We went to the Hmong Village for lunch (e.g. great spring rolls). Then my brother took us to Chucky Cheese as we played endless games with my nephew and niece.
On Saturday, I took my mom with me to IKEA to get some stuff for my kitchen (sink cabinet), which we had a coupon for FREE breakfast (if you turn in your receipt, which I forgot :().. We continued our mom's birthday celebration by taking her to Great Moon Buffet. We were talking about the origins of mom's name, which Necita means "nice" when the American soldiers came to the Philippines. This name was given by my grand parents (mom's side) after the American soldiers told them this.
Then on Easter "Resurrection" Sunday, my niece and nephew watched some Bible videos online. My niece started talking about dinosaurs, so I went too look for a Bible-focus creation video on dinosaurs. She watched with interest! I believe it's important to teach children the other perspective or view from what they teach in the "liberal" public schools.
I had Monday off after Easter (the 1st since I can remember as we've had to make-up these days by working due to "snow-days" previous winters). I spent this day by doing my taxes as the deadline approaches, which I ended up applying to do it past the deadline with new data I had to put in since I became a landlord 2 years ago. I also did some painting in my basement to make it a productive day as part of this 4-day holiday weekend!
We had our usual Spring "freeze warning" as it was during the late night-early morning hours between the 10th and 12th. Some folks got to their gardens early with the early "warm Spring temps", so they had to cover their plants. On Wednesday, April 11th-we had another farewell party for one of our ESL students. He was from Harbin, China where they were famously known for their ice castles (just like St. Paul!).
The following day, I was able to finally donate blood after a year wait. I had a crazy accident at work last year involving with a lancit needle (see Gratitude: March 2011 )..
During the second week, I attended a special church service at Hossana Worship Center on prophecy. The speaker encouraged the local church to reach to the community. I wasn't able to go the service the next day as I was helping out at a friend's wedding and then went to this local community event at Common Cup spearheaded by Jane Adams..

I couldn't find someone to attend a play by local homeschoolers in Glenwood's Central Square, so I decided to attend a play on racism at the local campus. I ended-up meeting a fellow Filipina (from San Antonio, TX), who was part of the play and are "friends" on facebook.

I went to the cities for the second weekend this month to attend an annual conference my local church is a part of. I went to Menards in Alexandria first to order some carpet (with pad) and was able to make it to the end part of the worship of the Friday evening conference. It was actually encouraging as I got a word of encouragement that God is Immanuel (with me), which was a confirmation of encouragement as I feel I do lots of things on my own (just got to acknowledge I'm doing it for the Lord and He's with me). I would then come back to Eden Prairie for the Saturday morning session (about reaching out to our surrounding community and being equipped with the right tools-spiritual gifts) of the conference after sleeping at my mom's house Friday night. When I was home for awhile, I shared a site that was a tribute to Filipino soldiers involved in the Bataan Death March during World War II with my parents. It was good to do this! Later in the evening after the conference, a friend on facebook invited friends to come hear her share stories in an event called "" by Asian Christian Fellowship at Bethel Unviersity...

On Sunday morning before heading back to Morris, my mom was curious what I learned from the conference this past weekend. I shared with her and she was interested about more of the "speaking in tongues". Thus, I prayed with her for more of this!

We've had some great early "summer-like" weather this Spring, so our softball team had their first practice of the year on Tuesday, April 24th. It was great weather and I did pretty well hitting in batting practice as I've been practicing with a heavy practice bat during the off-season. During this last full-week of April, I did various house projects (e.g. ceiling tile, clean basement in preparation for the carpet, etc..)

As part of Asian Awareness month in April, I attended the famous local "Taste of Asia" (used to plan this as a college student back in the days)...

Taste of Asia 2012 album

..I like to show my support by attending as many of these events sponsored by the Asian Student Association.

I would attend a couple of more eating festivities as the month ended (e.g. my workplace's annual board-staff appreciation dinner and an end-of-the-year potluck in Jane Adam's first successful year).

Friday, April 6, 2012

Gratitude: March 2012

I started the month with an early birthday present from some friends that used to live in Morris. They bought a cake as we watched a show on Major League Baseball Network. Earlier, we visited a friend out of town and the weather forecast on the internet said a "5-7 inch snowstorm". However, I decided to call a local motel for a personal opinion on how "bad" the weather was there and it wasn't as bad. This was just an example of how one should not trust technology (weather forecast)!

I participated on another weekly (Tuesdays @7:3pm this year) "Jane Adams" (see Espanol Services) get-together on March 6th 2012. It was awesome to see a couple of friends that I've invited in the past before, which was each of their first time. This is another lesson to never give-up when inviting friends. During the event, they showed an article (campus paper) of publicizing this weekly community event. I was encouraged to see a couple of photos I took from the first event from last Fall, which I can add to my photography portfolio!

On March 7th, I joined some fellow local church family members in the weekly eat and fellowship. They meet ever Wednesdays from 5p-7pm, which we can come and go for a quick meal with each other. This week, the them was pasta, which we each bring a pasta dish. This was a great time to touch basis with folks from church instead of just doing it on Sundays only. I had to leave a little after 6pm to participate in my weekly ESL-GED classes I volunteer at the local school. I brought a friend who has volunteered in the past, but hasn't been able to come for a while. It was a blessing to have him help to use his gifted skills of working with computers.

With "March Madness", I wanted to "do" than "watch" sports, so I went to the local fitness center to play catch (baseball) with my Kazu. I saw a couple of other friends, so I played soccer with them too. We would go to Alexandria the next day to watch a movie at the theater there, which would be my first time to do so in more than several years. It was my fist time there since it was remodeled many years ago. Before going to the movie "Act of Valor", I attended the annual "Spring Expo" in-town and was blessed to win a FREE burger (locally produced)! I say blessed because my intention to attend this event was to get a burger, which I rarely or don't even like eating red meat at all. I decided to get one as an exception since I knew where this burger was coming from (locally grown)!

On Sunday, March 11th (Daylight Savings Time) after doing the overnight (sleep shift), I went to my local church to help with Super Church (Sunday School). Prior to teaching, a church family member shared a testimony of how she got healed during worship service after asking God for healing (for a cold)! She then encouraged folks that needed healing to have folks around them to lay hands on them for prayer. This reminded me of my own personal testimony (see Healed from Head Concussion? , from last fall, which I would personally shared with her via email. Later in the evening, I would get together with a couple of friends for a movie night (rented from the local university)-Mongol (Oscar-nominated movie of Genghis Khan ).

The next day, I did more of my house basement remodeling project by working on the wood floor tiling. The day after, I got an early birthday present from a co-worker who won a birthday cake from a community cake walk.

On our weekly Wednesday ESL classes, we had a presentation by one of our students unfortunately leaving home (Pakistan) the end of this month. We did a farewell party for him as we learned more about his home country.

I have a health testimony to share, which I have to attribute to health living habits. Every two years, I have a physical exam as part of the required credentials when renewing my Class B (CDL) License for driving the bus fro my job. Well, I wanted to do well-particularly with my eyes. I've been doing my eye therapy (switch eye patch from left to right eye in regular basis) to improve my "lazy eye" disorder. Well, after doing this for a significant period of time, it has improved. Praise God!

For my on-going basement project, I did my ceiling (sheet rock a small narrow section by the vent and stair way), which would be a week project as I did little by little each time.

I spent my birthday weekend in the cities by showing my housemate around my birth hometown of St. Paul. We've been trying to do this earlier this year during winter break, but it didn't workout for his schedule. We first went to this Chinese restaurant (Tea Garden) at the UofM Twin Cities campus (Stadium Village). I joined a close friend of his-along with his friend's relatives for a get together. The next day, I took him to this new batting cage facility (Lake Elmo). It was my first time here and we had more fun taking rounds in the cage without the pitching machine, which I recommend trying next time. My housemate bought this cool kite earlier, so we had my niece and nephew join us in the open field behind the townhouse.

It was probably a perfect (windy and sunny) day to go kite flying! Then the day we left for Morris, my family took me and my housemate out to a Chinese buffet in West. St. Paul. It was a great weekend in the cities! On our drive back to Morris, the temperature was around lower 80's. It was so hot that I had to turn the AC on our ride back (also on our way to the cities this past Friday)!

My birthday celebration continued throughout the week at my workplace as they have been like family since I started in December of 05'. A co-worker made a homemade blueberry (favorite) pie on Monday and then more goodies on Wednesday (celebrated with another co-worker who had a birthday the following day)! I've been very blessed to work with the people here.

On Tuesday, March 20th (1st Day of Spring)-A "short-term" friend (Hafiz was in Morris for less than 6 months for a special program here), his housemates, and I got together for one last night. We hung out in a couple places in town as we celebrated till late in the evening. He will be certainly missed!

After passing my eye exam last week in renewing my drivers license, I nearly passed the physical exam given by my personal family doctor. Like I mentioned earlier, I have to attribute it to healthy lifestyle (asking God for self-discipline on foods I eat)!

On Saturday, March 24th-I had a long busy day! I was able to do more ceiling work and then enjoyed part of the afternoon by attending the annual CNIA Pow Wow. I hung out with various friends as I was able to catch-up with friends I haven't chatted for awhile. Later in the evening after doing some early "Spring-cleaning" (kitchen on main floor), I joined my housemate to celebrate his birthday along with his friend. We treated him out to Bella Cucina.

The following day, I decided to drive solo to St. Paul to participate in the annual "Philippine Day". I was originally plan on taking my housemate, but he was occupied with homework. Here are some highlights from this event..

After the event, I went home with my sister and her boyfriend. They both had some other plans, so they dropped me off with my niece and nephew. I decided to take them outside and play to enjoy the weather before going back to Morris. It was a worth one-day trip, which I haven't drove to the cities like this for years!

Throughout the last week of March at the local college, it was the annual World Touch Cultural Heritage Week. The theme this year was on Native Americans, which has always been enlightening for me to learn about this specific ethnic-cultural group. That is why I love this annual event as it gives me the opportunity to learn more outside of the "book" or learn what was hardly taught when going to school.
-Monday: Artist shared about various social issues and asked the audience (mainly college students) what are the biggest issues facing us today in this community? He then based his artwork on this theme. There were a lot of "issues" brought up, so he decided to focus on one (history of Boarding schools).
-Tuesday: Screening of this short documentary of an infamous event in Minnesota history.
-Wednesday: Origins of Names was the theme in this evening of different panelist representing different ethnic-cultural groups. What's the origin of your name?
-Thursday: Dinner: Award Banquet

I started the weekend by doing more of my basement remodeling project as I've been busy most of this week. I was able to finish casing the stairway, which took only 4 hours!

It was too nice out on Friday, so I decided to go out with a friend to join some other friends to play cricket. It was my first time playing. Friday was like batting practice before playing a pick-up game the following day..

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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Gratitude: February 2012

I started the second month of the year doing more work in my basement. I worked on putting a vent for my oven/stove; however, I had to have some barriers (wires) in the path for this vent. During this particular project, I had to cut part of the joist (supporting the main floor) to move the wires away. Unfortunately, I got a little too aggressive with my handsaw and accidentally chipped one of the wires. Fortunately, I stopped short enough before any more serious further damage. It created a spark and burned part of the blade. Thank God it didn't electrocute me! The lights upstairs (bedroom) unfortunately went off and I had to just turn on the circuit breaker. I then had to patch-up (with electrical tape and duct tape) the small cut in the wire.

The month started with more "unusually" warm weather as it hit the 40's during Groundhog Day (2nd), which was fitting for the 1st International Student "Spring Festival" at the local university. The next day, I got an update by mail on my "close to borderline diabetes" level. It's been close to 5 years when I was diagnosed "borderline" and ever since I've been more health conscious in my eating. Well, the numbers turned out well as I'm in a good level and just need to keep maintaining it!

On Super Bowl (Giants beat the Patriots) Sunday, I went to a local restaurant to watch the game with a local resident (see frequently at the local fitness center) to just have a conversation. We see each other regularly and just wanted to "talk". Unfortunately this guy has full blown cancer and was very pessimistic about nearing the end of his life, so I encouraged him that he can still "fight" it. We ended up talking about my faith and ended up sharing a brief testimony how God has changed me.

The nice "warm" weather ended on Friday, February 10th as it was another cold day (below 6) during our annual Valentine Dance at Clinton, Minnesota with my workplace (D.A.C.). However, we had a great dance and it kept us all warm!

The second weekend, I went to the cities for my monthly visit. My mom, sis, bro, and I went to this new Korean restaurant (Fresh Korean Fusion) in our neighborhood. The following day, I spent quality one and one time with my nephew and then to Savoy's Pizza with my brother (along with his kids) as my be-lated birthday gift. It was a great time hanging out.

It's been a basketball frenzy this week with "Linsanity" and that inspired me during a "pick-up" basketball game (Thursday, February 16th) with my former softball teammates. My legs ended up hurting for several days due to cheap shoes (running) I used for playing, so I ended up planning to get basketball shoes before I play next. As I rested during the weekend, I watched the live funeral memorial service of Whitney Houston (see Pop Diva).

Most Sundays, I go to two different church services (English and Spanish). I was asked by the local Spanish church to help with day care, so I've been volunteering watching the infants on Sunday afternoons. It's been more training as a future father! On Sunday, February 19th-I came to Morris Evangelical Free Church for a birthday party by a friend. I ended up bringing my special camera to take pics.

The following day (20th), I went to special "Soul Food Dinner" (sponsored by BSU) at the local university. It was part of a African-American History month celebration.

I finally finished my ceiling tile project during the last weekend of the month. It was tedious work and was very content about finishing this project that I've been nervously planning for a long time. I turned out easier than I expected! Between my project, I would go to the local DQ (2 blocks away) for their annual 50% of "Customer Appreciation Day". I ate lunch and dinner throughout the day!

I ended the weekend with this faith building service (1st-morning church service with 2 other local churches 2nd-evening) on "Faith & Home" (see Family, Believers, Brethren, Brothers, Sisters, Unity, etc...)...

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I highly recommend this message to everyone-especially parent(s) raising kid(s)!

The month ended with our 1st and ended up being our last (so far as of March 24th 2012) "Snow Day" (see GoodnewsMorris : Winter : 2012) we had a +8" inch snow blizzard. It was actually a blessing for folks at my workplace as we haven't had a day off since our one-week winter break before 2012 started. It was a great day to catch-up on house work and I was able to snowboard (2nd time only this whole winter season)!..

I invited some friends (one from Pakistan and two from Bangladesh), which it was their 1st time ever to go sledding!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Gratitude: January 2012

The warm winter from 2011 continued on till 2012. We had temps reaching 50's (F) on Thursday (5th), which I played football (catch & throw) and basketball at work during my noon break. I then played more basketball with a client of my mine at my other (part-time) job out in a nearby playground on Saturday (7th). That same weekend on the following day, I went to play baseball at the nearby campus with my friend/renter/housemate (Kazu). I can't remember ever playing baseball outdoors in this time of the season! Later in the evening on Sunday, I went to the see an inspirational film that's been talked about at my local church. I was glad I saw it (with a friend from Pakistan) as it really challenged me to be a better "man"...

"ABOUT COURAGEOUS, THE FILM AND THE SONG The Film: Courageous, the new action-packed movie from the creators of Fireproof, is a powerful reminder of the impact fathers have on their kids"¦and the legacy they will leave for future generations. Courageous:"

I'm also attending a weekly "men's bible study" (Spanish-speaking) with the newly local "Spanish-speaking" church (Morris E-Free Church's Iglesia de Nueva Vida->Church of New Life).

Our 1st two weeks of ESL/GED classes we just had one party after another! The first Wednesday we got back, two of our students (from China) made some dumplings (fish, pork, and beef). It was basically my supper that evening! Then the second week, a GED student brought a blueberry pie and some other "goodies". Then the 4th week, we celebrated "Chinese New Year", which we didn't have Chinese theme food (I brought some "mexican" theme snacks as a "last minute" thing and Ice Cream bars).

I"m taking advantage of the "somewhat" cold winter season by doing my basement remodeling project. I worked on ceiling tiles, floor tiles (wooden and ceramic), and putting a vent for my "hood vent" (oven). I cool "God-timing" story happened on Saturday, January 21st when I was getting more supplies at Menards in Alexandria. My friend (Chris) and I drove in my small Toyota to pick-up some "elongated" ceiling tile part, which I would had to maneuver and fit in my "dinky" small car. Well, my neighbor(Craig) happened to be there with his friend. I then "last minute" asked if he could put this "elongated" material in his pick-up, huh? God is watching!

On Monday, January 16th was Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday. After work, I participated in the campus-community march...

We then walked to the Morris Senior Center for a warm "home-cooked" meal for the monthly Community Meal (usually the 4th Monday of each month).

The nice "warm" winter came to an end for a short several days or so (18th to 20th) as we had 17 below zero (with wind chills reaching close to 40 below zero) Thursday morning when I got up for my monthly (3rd Thursdays) "Stevens Forward" meeting.

On Thursday, January 26th -I had the opportunity to take some clients from my workplace to the annual "Minnesota Twins Caravan". This year, it was held at Pizza Ranch.

We finally had enough snow to go snowboarding on the last Saturday (28th) of the month. It's been snowing off and on, but it would melt off and on. It wasn't the best amount of snow (some grassy areas-see video down below, but probably the best I can go snowboarding all winter so far behind the Morris water tower.

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The same day I went snowboarding, I was featured in the local paper (see Sal Monteagudo, Community Activist: Mentoring across cultures By: Judy Riley, Special to the Sun Tribune, Morris Sun Tribune Published January 28, 2012, 05:00 AM for my community involvement, which I would like to say I'm thankful for my "Extraordinary" God (Heavenly Father). I "try" to serve Him in everything I do, which I pray I continue to give Him the glory.