Sunday, December 15, 2013

November 2013

I started the first weekend of the month by visiting family in St. Paul. I helped a family member move into her new place in the Twin Cities. The weather was great for moving. I spent some quality time with my sister while putting up her new dining room table. It was Daylights Savings time (Fall back), so we gained an hour of extra sleep! James' family treated all of us movers at Perkins in Roseville before I headed back home. Along my way home, I went to get windows in Menards in Alexandria. I took the "chance/risk" by putting one of the large windows on top of my car with the strong 20-30mph winds. Well, I was so focused on not wanting my window to come off from the "well secured" (bungee ropes) roof that I lost focus on the up-coming stop sign just 1/4 mile north of Menards on the back roads that I went through the stop sign!...nearly hitting an up-coming vehicle going east on the stop sign. I just swirved in front of the car and turned right going east too. THANK GOD I didn't hit the vehicle avoiding a near serious car accident!..weh!

On the 4th (Monday), I did more raking (after arriving from my Benson route) in my yard before heading out to the weekly ESL classes at the local campus to join some friends there.

On Friday (8th), my housemates and I hosted a sushi party again. It cool to invite friends of ours from the college. The following day, I took some friends to Don's Café after the recent award for "best grilled cheese sandwich", which I had to try my self..

After voting for the best grilled cheese sandwich in the state (Minnesota) and haven't tried it when Don's Cafe was declared the winner. I decided to go try it myself while bring a couple of friends along (1st time for them too) on Saturday, November 9th 2013 Vote Don's!.... to Don's Cafe!... What's your favorite food/dish there during breakfast, lunch, or supper?....

On Sunday (10th), my local church hosted a guest musician (Tim Daniels from North Carolina). See photo-videography-> Tim Daniels in Concert.

After close to 2 weeks, I finally found (a client from my workplace was being sleazy-joking around and took it off from my jacket pocket when I wasn't my nearly broken cell phone. Fortunately, I was in the process of ordering a replacement (smart phone instead) prior to "losing" it, but I wanted to take out the smart card from the "old" phone and put it in my "new" smart phone. It was International week at the campus, so I would attend several events: Fashion Show, International Country Spotlight, and a movie-"American in China.

On Thursday, November 14th-I brought my housemate (Yuu) to his 1st parade in Morris->

Annual Parade of Lights (November 2013) Part 1

The weather was fairly warm-compared to previous parades!

On Saturday (16th), I went to Alexandria for my quarterly teacher's training. I picked-up some items for our "Japanese-theme" food party my housemates and I hosted to some friends (Marta, Bailey, etc..). The next day, there was a church potluck at my local church. The guest speaker (Jim M.) shared about the story of Baal (false god) in the Bible and how people can "call-upon" the "real" God through His answered prayers. During the service, pastor Pat led prayers for a young couple in our church that lost a newborn :( and also the tsunami in the Philippines. I would make a couple of tribute videos for this historical natural disaster-> Philippine Typhoon Haiyan-Yolanda 2013 Awareness Video & Philippine Typhoon Haiyan-Yolanda Relief Thank You-Salamat to show my prayers and support living this far in this part of the world.

I wrote down "snow" on the 21st (Thursday), so this was probably our 1st "significant" snow fall. I remember going to the local library to do some errands and then I rode my bike to Subway to meet a friend (Eric) that I haven't had the time to "sit down and talk" for a long time. It was good catching up!

On Saturday (23rd), I went to a "friend's" jazz concert to support her as she's been a faithful volunteer in the weekly ESL classes on Wednesday nights at the local school. I then went back to my house to join another weekend party my housemates were hostingn(w/sushi).

On Sunday (24th), I had to attend a "make-up" inservice meeting with my 2nd job about "Fire Safety". I was somewhat "angered" about having to attend on a Sunday and miss church service. However, I was going to missed it if I was able to have friends join me to drive to St. Paul for a "Haiyan Typhoon Fundraiser" sponsored by the local Filipino community in the Twin Cities. Unfortunately, my friends were too busy with school work, so I decided to go to this inservice meeting that lasted only 15 minutes or so in Wheaton (40 minute drive NW of here). On our way back, my co-worker and I continued our "small-talk". I then had that "Holy Spirit" touch, which I felt this trip can't be wasted. There needs to be something more "worthwhile" of this trip. I felt the need to share the "Good News" with this co-worker of mine since I couldn't go to church. I ended up sharing my personal testimony with him after he shared about some of his own "personal battles" (which we all have). The lesson from this is "God is in control of all your circumstances" no matter if it's not going "your" way; as long you let Him have "His" way!

On Tuesday, November 26th-I attended the weekly Jane Adams community gathering, which they had a Japanese theme. I invited my housemates, which Yuu was able to go. We learned how to do oragami, which I've done already in the past. On Hanukkah (Wednesday 27th), I attended my weekly Bible Study gathering, but the host wasn't available. Thus, we met at Neil & Ruth's house for breakfast. The following day, I would go to the cities with my housemate (Yuu) for Thanksgiving after I got off my pt-job (overnight shift). Traffic was pretty bad as many were traveling to different holiday destinations, but we were thankful to get to St. Paul safely. We arrived at my parent's home before going to my younger brother's family's house for a Thanksgiving family (over 40+ relatives of my brother's in-laws were there) gathering (e.g. great Hmong food, football on t.v. with the guys, etc...). After our great time with family-friends, I refused to participate in the "early" Black Friday. Instead I took Yuu a drive around the Twin Cities, which we would drive by Target to show him the crazy lines (see The Short-Long Lines of "Black Thursday". The next day (Friday 29th), I took Yuu (1st time visit) with my nephew (Stefan) to the Mall of America. It was pretty crowded, which we had to drive to the the top (about less than 10 cars) floor (East Parking Lot side) because I didn't want to waste my time driving around looking for a spot. On Saturday (30th), we drove to Seed of Abraham (Messianic service-Jewish believers of Christ) in St. Louis Park. It was my second time there as I wanted to show Yuu since he has an interest in this particular religion. We then went to Lake Street in Minneapolis to visit several cultural places. I then took Yuu to one of my favorite eateries in East St. Paul-> Pappy's. By evening time, we walked around downtown St. Paul to see the holiday festivities (e.g. Hmong New Year, Rice Park, etc...).

Friday, December 13, 2013

October 2013

I continued my car brake project through the 1st week of October, which I'm glad I did this then compared to the current freezing weather (December 13th). During my brake project (2-3 weeks span: THANK YOU-Ed for sacrificing some weekends to work on my car several hours!; Oray, friend/co-worker, for driving me to the junkyard on the 15th for a part that I wasn't able to find and found out I would never need), I rode my bike a lot! It was great exercise, saved a lot of money, less wear and tear of my car as I didn't put much miles, etc... I was hoping to do this as long as I can even though my car would get fix before the "cold" winter hit. The healing "fire" service continued from last Sunday to the 6th. I would pray with people at my workplace that needed healing and my faith built up when I had a couple of friends join me to pray for another friend (UMM student who damaged one of his fingers when he accidentally slammed his car door on it!). I would post this with some pictures from the healing service prior on facebook-private setting, which I just share it with a certain number of people as I continue to do so still today (12 of December) that needs encouragement..praise the Lord!

On the 7th (Monday), I started attending the UMM ESL classes to join some friends that I know after I was about to check out how the weekly ESL classes are like. I started with Level 3, which I was about to visit the other levels. Well, I just grew to like the people here and never had the chance to visit the other levels. I would do this through the whole semester. The on Tuesday (8th), I would attend Jane Adams, which I brought my housemate (Yuu-"Mr. Social Bee") and he would join me a couple to several meetings throughout the semester.

Yuu would end up sharing about his country (e.g. Kobe Beef) in the ESL classes I do the next day (Wednesdays) as we discussed the topic of the recent "holiday"-Colombus Day-who really "discovered" America? (see history).

It was a beautiful Thursday (10th), so a close friend (Chris) and I played some soccer outside on a 74 F sunny afternoon after work. The following day (11th), it was just the opposite-tornado watch with rain. I ended up playing racquetball with my housemate (Yuu) indoors at the local fitness center.

On Sunday (13th), we had a guest speaker (college alumn friend) at church, who is a missionary at Ireland. She shared a very encouraging message about the power of sharing out own testimonies of how God has and continues to change-mold us. The following day, I went to a campus-community event called Soup & Substance: Abuse, which was a great 1+ hour community discussion and to increase the needed awareness of this prevalent "social issue".

On Saturday (19th), some friends (Wenting from China, Yuu, and Kazu) and I went to Alexandria to "hangout". We visited a former student (Olim from Uzbekistan) of mine at the best ethnic Chinese restaurant in Alexandria. Later that evening, we all joined a couple of other friends (Ed & Aisanne) to go bowling back in Morris. We had a great time!

On the 20th (Sunday), I attended a friend/co-worker's benefit fundraiser for his unfortunately deceased wife. I made a tribute video to promote this community event as my way of support. I would later make more videos from the 30 minute interview I did prior for family and friends to see. I'm hoping to more similar interviews like this as time allows.

During the last 2 weeks of October, there was a push for community support of this online contest-"Celebrate My Drive"-to get as much votes to support safe teen driving. The ranking would go up and down, which our community would end-up finishing 3rd place (announced the following month)!

On Friday (25th), my housemate (Yuu) and I attended a bonfire at Pomme De Terre Park, which was the warmest day for the past few days. It reached a high of 62, so it wasn't too bad in the evening. It was great to hangout on a Friday night with the folks of Jane Adams. Earlier, I was able to get a lot of house projects done before the winter season hits. I tilled my garden in preparation for next years planting, which I didn't do last year. Thus, my garden wasn't as productive-just got some tomatoes, but that's about it! :(

On Saturday (26th), I started the day with my local church's men's weekly fellowship, which we are doing the "Stepping-Up" series. For men that need to encourage one another, feel free to join a men's group I started -> Good News Men. I then worked out at the local fitness center, which I would meet a friend (Plamen from Bulgaria) in the community there. That is why I like working out at the fitness center as there are always people there you can "catch-up" with from the community one hasn't seen for awhile -long time. Later in the evening, I would go bowl with the same group like last week. We bowled two games, which I had my highest bowling score ever-161!

I ended the month with a community "shinning for Jesus" activity on Halloween. As the past 4-5+ years, I like to print out bible tracts and paste it on items I hand out to whoever comes to my door to "trick/treat". The past years, I've switched from candy to juices as a "health freak" trying to promote "healthier eating" (see-> Good News Health as anyone is welcome to join our facebook group to educate one another on a more "healthier lifestyle".

Sunday, November 10, 2013

September 2013

I started the month with Labor Day weekend, which was a nice time to "rest" before my full schedule (M-F) started next week. My friends (Ed & Aisanne) invited my housemates and I over for supper on Sunday (1st) as it was great weather. It was a 1/2 day when I and my co-workers went back to work on Tuesday (3rd), but the other 1/2 of the "work day" was our annual inservice training-good refresher course to remind ourselves the "mission" of why we work ("serve our clients and train them to be as independent as they are capable to "succeed" in life-paraphrase). After work, I continued more of the ongoing roof project (put screws on the panels to hold them down).

On Wednesday (4th), I helped out at our weekly ESL-GED classes. My housemates hosted a sushi get-together as a farewell party for my housemate (Adnan) who will be leaving this coming weekend :(. The next day, his supervisor from work invited my housemate (Kazu) and I over for a BBQ potluck with his co-workers. We continued the farewell celebration with a BBQ in our backyard on Friday night (6th). It was excellent weather as we had over 10+ friends over. I did a "Bollywood" music slideshow of some pictures taken to reflect his short 6-month time with us. I took Adnan the following day with more goodbyes and left Morris to the Twin Cities. We met up with his cousin (Manan) as he took a bus all the way from Madison, Wisconsin. He would hang out with us for the weekend (e.g. Rosedale Mall, Holy Land , etc..)

Friends (Adnan & Manan) happy after a great meal (Saturday, September 7th 2013)... more...

After dropping Adnan and Manan (just waited to say good bye) at the MSP International Airport, I went to visit the nearby Fort Snelling State Park for the 1st time...

 photo IMG_1954_zpsf7a8429f.jpg

...It's a great place (when it's open) to visit/park while waiting for folks at the airport (arriving/departing).

On Wednesday (11th), I learned how to fix a bike for the 1st time. My housemate taught me how to replaced my flat tire, which I wished I knew how to do this long ago. If you would like to know yourself, feel free to join our facebook group (Good News Financial), which I started to help friends save and budget their money with everyday life tips.

I spend most of the 2nd week of the month screwing various parts of my metal roof after work. I wanted to get as much done until the missing parts arrived that I ordered last month. It was great weather to do so.

I took a break the 2nd weekend by going to Alexandria with housemates (Jin & Yuu). I had my quarterly inservice teaching training (ESL & GED), so I dropped my housemates off at Walmart as I went to my 3+ hour training. After the training, I picked-up my housemates and then did some "running-around" the town. We 1st went to Ron's Warehouse, but didn't buy much since my housemates already got most of their stuff already shopping this morning at Walmart. We then went to Carlos Creek Winery for the "Grape Stomp". Unfortunately, it was raining and we didn't want to get wet. We decided to just leave, so I took them to the local bowling alley and showed them this "cool" place (e.g. played some games). We decided to head back home in the rain. Along the way, my wheels started to make squealing noises. When I got home, I would realize I would need new brakes. This project would last almost a month! I'm just thankful to God that I didn't have any accidents and this break issue didn't happen in a much longer road trip.

I took one of my newest ESL student (Gaetan from France) to a rock concert with my housemate (Yuu) on Sunday at the campus. It was part of a KUMM (local campus radio) weekend concert.

My brake project started on the 16th and would last till the next month. The 1st phase was getting my front brakes redone (just changed it 2 years ago-> see both 2011 & 2013 pics), which my friend "mechanic" (Ed) told me it was due to the brake system in the engine. I would then do the front brakes a week or so later, which I decided to record the process-> Toyota Corolla 2000 Rear Brake Project

My rear brake project finished by the 20th in time for my every other month or so trip to Moose Lake. I feel this was a God-timing blessing as I got everything done in time before the 21st when I visited a friend in Moose Lake Prison. I brought my housemate (Yuu) with me, which I dropped him off at Crosstown Mall: Scheels, where he would wait for 5+ hours until I got back to St. Cloud. Before leaving, we toured around the city and went to a great Somali Restaurant.

I spent the last full-week of the month finishing my roof ridge project, which I finally found a way to get on the slippery roof (see Equipment for Climbing A Metal Roof) video). I thank God for His protection, which I prayed a lot for wisdom and protection-safety despite having a harness. On Friday (26th), I was able to workout (lift weights) for the 1st time since my wrist injury. It still was in pain, but felling much a lot better. I finished in time before friends came over for 2013 UMM Homecoming Weekend. I spent some time with Shannon battling cancer, who has taught me more about the fragility of how life can be and to not take anything (God's blessings each day) for granted! Please keep him in your prayers for healing!

Talking about healing, my month ended with a great healing service at my local church. See some of God's everyday testimonies=> Good News Thankful-what are you thankful for?

Friday, October 18, 2013

August 2013

I started the month with continuing my Metal Roof Project. We (Ed & Adnan) did the north side of the roof, which we got 2/3 of the shingles off. Fortunately, we get Fridays off, so the next day (2nd) I finished taking 1/3 of the shingles by myself early in the morning. I then clean-up the yard of shingles by throwing it in the rented dumpster. I took a break during noon lunch by going to the 1st "Community Meal" of the 2013-2014 academic UMM season. I then worked on the garage, which I was able to take all the shingles within 2 hours by myself. I then started putting black tarp, which I wished I bought more as I was able to patch some holes of the previous old tarp. Ed then came over around 4ish to help put the circular sky window in the north side of the roof. He would help me finish tarping the garage roof before calling it a day. I decided to clean as much of the scattered "old" shingles on the ground until sun set as I wanted to prepare for tomorrow. It was a long day, which I slept good (overnight) at my other job.
The following day (Saturday-3rd), I started early preparing the garage roof for the metal sheets. Ed would help me later in the morning, which I had a slight accident (fell from the unstable ladder, which I took the risk before climbing it. I landed hard on the concrete sidewalk with my right elbow. I found out later after an expensive $250 X-ray that it wasn't broken...thank God!). My housemate (Adnan) would help me do the east side of the roof. We did pretty good overall (wo/ Ed's help) despite a slant angle as we did our best placing the the first sheet, but didn't know how to use my balancer tool right. We did this within 1 hour and a half as we wanted to check out the annual "Flekkefest" parade 30 minutes north-Elbow Lake. We were running late, so I drove towards the end of the parade route to catch as much of it
2013 Parade
On Tuesday, August 6th-We had another hail storm. Some parts of town had softball size. Ironically, I was doing my metal roof (1/2 of north side already done), which it was replacing the damaged roof shingles from last summer's storm. Well, this hail storm did some damage on my new metal roof. I decided to cancel my claim to my home insurance because it wasn't worth it. We would finish (I was trying to get it done after 2 rain storms and didn't want to tarp it again before another forecast rain the next day, which never happened) doing the last half the following day (7th) , which we had some challenges (Ed had a hard time seeing the screws, so I had my lamp light on-hand. He almost slid down the slippery newly "oiled" panel, but Adnan caught him as he was going down-thank God!) as it got dark (9:45pm). Once we got the last panel, we celebrated with pizza (Casey's). Hallelluah!

MorrisStuff's Sals House Roofing Project Pics album on Photobucket
On the 8th (Thursday), I took Adnan to the Steven's County Fair, which was his 1st time. On our way there, I popped my bike by accidentally putting too much air from the gas station. Earlier, I thought of just using my regular pump, which I should've followed my gut earlier! We live and learn! On Friday, we (Ed and Adnan) did some last finishing touches (put sides, which we ran out-short ordered. I would wait for another month or so to continue this as the parts took awhile to be delivered-due to custom order) of the metal roof for the "major paneling" part.
On the 10th (Saturday), I went to the cities and attended a couple of cultural ethnic events-Indian Fest & Irish Fest-both in St. Paul. It was great time hanging out with family. It was my dad's birthday on the 13th, so we did an early family celebration while I was in the cities.
On the 14th, Ed and Aisanne invited Adnan and I over for a BBQ with other friends (Elena & Plamen), We would do some Bollywood dancing! The next day (sorry-it was moved to the following Thursday, so the 22nd), I attended another BBQ, which my softball team hosted. Despite an "ok" season, it was a great way to end the season with a picnic. I had the 16th off, so I spend most of this day and part of the following morning to help Ed with his work as my gratitude for helping me with my metal roof project. Ed's been teaching me a lot about carpentry, gaining handi-work skills!
It was that time of the year-State Fair! I would go hangout with family on the 24th, which we decided this date because it would be the "less hottest" of the rest of the fair while I was in the cities. We went 9ish in the morning and stayed till 1ish in the afternoon. I'm glad we went because the rest of the fair the entire last week of August had temps around the 90's, which had low attendance. Good timing!
Even though I had 1+ week vacation from my full-time job, I had to go back to Morris on the 27th because of work (pt-job) the next evening and I was going to bring my newest housemate (Yuu-referred by my current housemate-Kazu-also from Japan) from MSP-International Airport to Morris. I would "last minute" bring another UMM International Student (Hannah-from S. Korea). I spent my less than a week of vacation (from my ft-job) doing some errands and community stuff (e.g. annual "Feed my Starving Children" & "Welcome UMM Community Picnic" on Thursday 29th).

Sunday, October 6, 2013

July 2013

I started the new month by playing softball, which I went 3 for 4 (1st game-lost 13-14) and 0 for 2 (2nd game won 11-8). During July 4th (Thursday), I started getting all these e-mails, texts, and phone calls about one of my email accounts got hacked :(... I had to quickly change my password by contacting the email account provider while I had friends over for a afternoon BBQ. The following day, I would help a former housemate (Anthony) clean-up his parent's house from last months disasterous storm. It was a great workout and quality time with him and his family. I went to the cities that 1st weekend, which was shorter than previous July 4th week/weekends due to our shorter holiday week due to our snow day make up at my full-time job. When I got back to Morris, I would drive to St. Cloud due to a detour along the interstate. I decided to stop over at the Somolian grocery store there to pick-up some halal foods for my current housemate. I love eating these type of "natural" prepared foods! On Tuesday (9th), I would join some friends from my local church for a summer fun outreach activity based on this book called "Treasure Hunt" (see MCC August Newsletter). On the 11th, we had a heat wave (close to 94 F?), which I was glad that our softball game was in the evening. On our Friday(s) off (12th), I took advantage of it by doing some indoor (clean the base of the washer and dryer in basement) and outdoor (brick sidewalk landscaping adjacent to the garage) work. It was Prairie Pioneer Days weekend, so I went to the Finals of the Talent Show that same evening. However, it would be the only time I would go to the park as it was a busy weekend (rainy on Sunday, so the parade was cancelled for the 1st time I've been going to this annual summer "town" celebration). However, I couldn't refuse the pancake feed, which I enjoyed with some folks after church. The bloodmobile was in town the 17th, which I can't remember them being here during the summer in the past. I went to a Stevens Forward meeting on the 18th, but there was only one other guy. We chatted a little and then left early. On Friday (19th), I would play badminton with my housemate (cousin Manan visiting joined us too) in our new badminton set. We were killing time before our friends (ESL student-Olim and his cousin, both are from Uzbekistan) came over for a Ramandan celebration. The following day, we (Adnan, Manan, Kazu, and I) packed and got ready for our a big road trip to South Dakota...

Day #1 (Sunday, July 21st)-Pitching Our Tent

It would actually rain that evening in our first night, but fortunately it wasn't as big as it was reportedly the previous night (tourist we met at the Badlands told us it hailed!)

Day #2 (Monday, July 22nd)-Visit Mount Rushmore, Keystone, Hill City Train Station/Museum, and Hangout with Kazu's friend

Day #3 (Tuesday, July 23rd)-Visit Dinosaur Museum (Hill City) and Ellsworth Air Force Base
The Museum @ Black Hills Institute of Black Hills..!i=2660097880&k=mrBTGpN

Overall, it was a great trip. I thank God for safe, fun, and blessed 3-day trip vacation! We arrived close to midnight as we turned in the vehicle (rental). I'm thankful for Heartland Chevy Motors for providing great service. My housemates and Manan had a supper to reflect on our trip on the 25th, which he would go home (Madison, Wisconsin) the following day. Talking about God's timing, a former college friend (Ryan F.) happened to be visiting Morris to go fishing with a friend from his church. They did a HUGE favor by driving Manan back with them to Minneapolis, where he would catch a bus (Mega Bus) back to Wisconsin-great discount fare ride leaving Minneapolis (35 something) compared to Alexandria (I think 70-100 something??). Praise the Lord!

The last weekend of the month, I took Adnan to Waterama for his 1st time of this annual celebration in Glenwood..

Vacation and fun is over, as I started my metal roof project on Sunday (28th), which I wouldn't complete the final project until mid-September due to missing parts that the order took awhile. Thank God that there were no serious injuries (Me-sprained my elbow after falling from an unstable ladder while working on the garage roof and hitting my roof-partner in the head with a 2x4" (3-6 inches long) in the head while throwing down foot stable platforms :( ). THANK YOU: Ed and Adnan for working together to help finish this meaningful project!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

June 2013

It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon, so my housemate (Kazu) and I went over to Big Cat Stadium to play baseball with a young kid I “mentor”. Kazu taught him some basic baseball skills, which I thought was a great one to one coaching experience for both. While playing, I had parking issue with the local campus police, which got resolved :). I did more Spring cleaning on the 3rd, which I helped my current housemate move to a new place for the summer months.

On Wednesday (5th), we had our weekly morning PCS Bible Study at Neil & Ruth's house since the office was closed this morning. They hosted us with waffles for breakfast...yummy!

On Thursday (6th), my other housemate (Adnan) and I did some yardwork. The following day, I brought my housemate (Kazu) with me to the Twin Cities for a couple of community celebrations (Japanese Cherry Blossoms Ceremony and Philippine Independence Day Picnic) for the 3-day weekend. On Sunday, a couple of old UMM college friends (Mark & Anna) invited me to their church for a special service (multicultural" worship band called Heart of the City). I had to leave early as I had to pick my housemate (Kazu) to head back to Morris before a 4pm meeting, which we got there 5 minutes before (went through the I-94 one lane traffic by Clearwater).

I finally had the chance to go out to the golf driving range on Monday, June 10th. It was Adnan's 1st time, which we enjoyed the nice weather. The following day, my pastor (Pat) invited me to sit down for supper with an up-coming guest speaker. Since, I'm busy on Wednesdays due to ESL-GED classes and not able to attend the summer Wednesday services, I had the opportunity to chat with this "evangelist". It was very encouraging as it just motivated and equipped me more! On the 12th (Wednesday), some close friends (Aisanne & Ed) invited us "last minute" for a steak dinner, which we had to leave early for our weekly Morris Literacy Project. Then on Thursday (13th), I brought these same friends from the steak dinner to this Open House at Superior Industries. It was cool to see the facilities inside for the 1st time. That same evening, we (Adnan & I) went to the local weekly (Thursdays in June) "Kiwanis Talent Show". I had a former GED student came up to me during the event and opened up about how he's been trying to work to support his family as the "breadmaker" (see family man). It was nice to see him just open up about this as he's trying hard as the family man, which I respect that. After another "short" Talent Show, I went to check on my softball team as I missed the 1st game. They unfortunately lost the 2nd game as I sat on the side to watch them lose 5-18. I was grateful to see my friends (Chris & Adnan) to watch on the stands.

On Flag Day (14th of June), the same friends (Chris and Adnan) joined me on a road trip outside town to nearby Benson to watch their annual marching band parade. After a hot day, it was nice to see the clouds come over to cool it. The next day, Chris & Adnan joined Jeff and I to Moose Lake. We dropped off Jeff first before heading to Duluth

GoodnewsMinnesotaInfo's Duluth Trip 2013 With Adnan and Chris album on Photobucket

It was the Father's Day (16h-Sunday), which I wasn't able to be home in St. Paul to celebrate with my dad. However, I was there the week earlier. I got him a card in the mail with a gift certificate (Red Lobster) and I called him later in the day. After church service (where I was asked by my pastor to "pray" for the men (Hooya-Rise Up!), my housemate cooked another Pakistani rice dish.

Adnan helped with the yard work on Monday (17th) as he's trying to find ways to cut down his rent. The next day (18th), I went to a wake (funeral service) visitation after work. Since it was in Beardsley, I decided to bring Adnan to come along, so we can go on a road trip around that area (e.g. Big Stone). I took him to South Dakota across the border for his first time, so he can say he's been to another state. It was ideal weather as it was sunny and beautiful.

I played both softball games for the 1st time as I went 1-1 (1st game we won 14 to 5) and went 3 for 3 (but lost lost 2nd game ?-2). I was able to play part of the 1st game because the Talent Show ended early, which they were short of a player too. I wasn't really needed since they were winning, but it was fun to play for game this softball season.

I drove Adnan to Fargo to catch a plane to Nevada (visiting Aunt) for the 1st day of Summer after our crazy storm last night. Lots of trees down (see pics-> Summer Storm). On my way back, I saw some crazy storm clouds. When I arrived back to Morris, there was another severe weather threat, so I stayed home as I uploaded pictures from my trip.

The following day, I helped a friend (Ed) work on his car as he replace his old sunroof with another "used" one. I then went to a co-worker's grandson's birthday (1st) party to take pictures at Pomme De Terre Park. The next day (23rd-Sunday), I participated in the "Walk for Life Fundraiser", which I ran a 3K for the 1st in many years. The money went to a good cause, which motivated me to do and finish the race in the hot sweating afternoon (1:30ish start). I finished last placed amongst the 4 runners (younger than me), which just made me "feel out of shape"! It was great exercise! I had a great time of fellowship (e.g. played frisbee with a kid name Levi and others around his age) with others in the community that had the same heart.

With my renter (Adnan) gone, I worked on some house projects (e.g. bathtube siding replaced with a PVC-like material to avoid mold), which was a very productive Tuesday (25th). When Adnan got back on Thursday (27th) from his vacation to the West Coast, I played tennis with him the following day (Friday-28th), which was his 1st. On the last day (Sunday 30th) of the month, I took some friends (Adnan and friend's kids) to Alexandria for my 1st "Annual Viking Band Festival". A friend (ESL student-Olim from Uzbekistan) joined us towards the end of the parade, which I would take him and Adnan for a tour of this beautiful resort city.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Gratitude: May 2013

The 1st day of the month started with NO snow, unlike the Twin Cities (they got 6-9 inches of snow)! I went to a fitness class called H.I.T on the 2nd day. On the 3rd, there was a community fundraiser for Lazos (Spanish-speaking community organization that helps fund activities to build integration),which was help at a local church...

MorrisStuff's Lazos Annual Fundraiser 2013 album on Photobucket

I did a one-day trip to the cities on the 4th (Saturday) with my housemate to the annual Festival of Nations..

GoodnewsMinnesotaInfo's Festvial of Nations at St Paul Rivercenter 2013 album on Photobucket

At my local church, we had a speaker connected with our church network; shared some encouraging words (e.g. prophecy, praise reports of healing during a recent mission trip to India, etc..) to our local body. It was awesome! After coming home, my housemate's supervisor (Russ G.) and wife (Pauletta) invited us for lunch. They would open-up more to us about their past and testimonies. It's always faith building to hear stories of how God has brought people from their past to now (still challenges, but they have hope)!

Typical Monday (6th)? I had one of those "just in time" (God) moments when I went to the RFC to check-in my workout. I was just getting of work and I arrived at the RFC when a co-worker (from my pt-job) was dealing with a particular "work-challenge". I was able to intervene and my co-worker was very happy of the timing. You just never know when you might be needed in an unexpected circumstances in day to day life! I "try" to remember to ask (prayer) God each morning, "Heavenly Father, show me how I can be used by you"!

The following day, many of the clients from my workplace attended the annual Women of Today Dance at Old #1 South Side. I brought my housemate (Adnan), so he can experience this unique event. It was another eye-opening experience for him as he was able to witness our awesome services we as a community provide for this type of population.

The same day on national news was the finding of 3 young (now adults) missing children in Ohio...Praise the Lord!

On Thursday (9th), my housemates and I hosted the 2nd Annual End of the UMM School Year Picnic, which we held it in our backyard this year. The day after, I realized I need to clean-up my garage, so I did some cleaning (since it was raining outside) and continued to do so on a later date.

On the 11th (Saturday), I went to another UMM Graduation Commencement Ceremony, which was unfortunately indoors due to the windy-chilly spring weather outside. After, I did a small farewell gathering for a friend (Andrew-from the Philippines), who has been working with some agriculture stuff (Ag Reliant) for a little over a year.

On Sunday (12th), it was Mother's Day! I wasn't able to visit "home" (St. Paul), but I did mail my card and gifts in time. I spent this day doing house work (clean attic) and yard work (tilled the garden after a "late" Spring).

I continued my spring cleaning by organizing my garage despite temperatures reaching 80's. However, it was great humid weather to do laundry, which I hung my bed comforters (save electricity without using my dryer). The following day (14th-Tuesday), I celebrated a current ESL student (from Cambodia) with many of her friends (from church, housemates, etc..) at Hancock's "Buddies Bar & Grill". We then had a great fellowship/chatting time at my pastor's house over yummy desserts!

On Thursday, May 16th-I played Cricket for the 1st time this season with many friends from our weekly ESL classes.

During the 3rd weekend of the month, I visited my family in St. Paul as part of my once a month visit. I took my mom to several garage sales on the East Side of St. Paul as a one and one time with my mom since she loves doing this. I then took my car to the shop (Tire Plus) with my dad and miscommunicated the location (Woodbury instead of Maplewood). Despite the error, it was good to just spend time with dad for that short time since he is very busy.

On Monday (20th), I did more basement stuff by painting the utility room, which I decided to do since it was plain sheet rock and I had some extra paint to make it more appealing before my inspection. This day was the first time to actually do the lawn after a late Spring.

The following day, my housemates (Kazu & Adnan) and I were invited to a family's BBQ. They have been volunteering with our ESL classes for almost 2 years now, which our bond has grown. I'm very thankful for their willingness to help in this needed area in our community and it was fun playing cricket with them last week.

I was able to join my 1st practice with the softball team on Thursday (23rd), which I thought my practice of swinging the bat and working out paid off as I feel very confident for this season when it comes to contributing what I can offer. Plus, it would be a great time to hangout with the guys!

At my workplace we celebrated a co-worker's 50th (half-century) Birthday. It was a unique celebration besides our regular snack on treats during break. We each gave a gift to this co-worker throughout the day at different times.

The last (Memorial) weekend of the month (25th), I was able to practice my photography-videography hobby at a friend's wedding (Aisanee & Ed). It was a great time and awesome fellowship with new and former friends. The next day (Sunday the 26th), my housemate (Adnan) and I were invited to go fishing at Perkins Lake (a.k.a "Pomme De Terre"). It was probably the most successful fishing experience I had in terms of quality fishes (I've caught more shoreline with a former housemate many years ago at Lake Minnewaska).

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Gratitude: April 2013

I started this April Fools Day working my 2nd part-time job after my full-time job. I just worked several hours only. When I came home, I saw some friends doing some "April Fools Day" jokes on their facebook, so I decided to share a couple (e.g. changed my relationship from "single" to "relationship" & "Found new job teaching English in China"). I "fooled" a lot of my "friends", which a cousin of mine suggested I actually do one of them (teach in China). This is something I should wait and see!

On Friday (5th), I hosted a former UMM Alumn (Ryan F.) over as he was recently accepted on the UMM Alumni Board. I treated him to the newest "Mexican" Restaurant located in the 2nd floor (formerly Jose Burritos) of City Centre Mall. It was great to "catch-up" on how a former UMM friend/resident (from residential Clay A. Gay Hall) is doing nowadays. The following day (6th) was a packed Saturday as I took my newest housemate (Adnan from Pakistan) to several community events (e.g. CNIA Pow Wow, WCA Cattleman Steak Dinner, and Jane Adam's sponsored "Spoken Word Rodrigo" at Common Cup.<

"With a former UMM Alumn (Clayton A. Gay Hall Floormate 95'-96')"

After a busy fun-filled Saturday, I went to the local gym for their "Fitness Frenzy" (Zumba and Abs exercises). The next day, it was "Holocaust Rememberance Day", so I decided to share one of my video project...

It was "Multicultural Heritage Week" at the local campus, so I took Adnan to check out as many of the cultural events (e.g. Blacktino the movie-> see Facebook Blog, Diversitunes, etc..)

On Thursday (11th), we had a another "Snow Day", which I took advantage of the day to take care of some "house stuff" (replaced my "old" water softener with one made from Valnes $1K). The next day after work, I was still in the mood to "Spring Clean", so I cleaned my "old" bedroom on the on the main floor to rearrange the bed of my newest housemate (Adnan). It was much needed cleaning, which I haven't done a thorough clean like this since I moved in 2006! During the 2nd weekend, I worked on my taxes, which I procrastinated before the 15th deadline.

On Thursday (18th), we had another snow storm, which we got off work 1 hour earlier. This gave me time to do some more "errands" before my housemate hosted a birthday party for his friend. Due to the "bad" weather that continued the next day, the local school closed. However, my workplace remained opened and I would ended up driving home (St. Paul) for the weekend as I would follow a little of the Boston Bombing "Drama", which the "last suspect" was found.

I spent the weekend visiting family and didn't do much (e.g. shopping with my mom & sis at Kohl's in Woodbury, watch my niece & nephew swim at the "old" Arlington High School, and watch Twins baseball on t.v. with my sis and her boyfriend).

On Tuesday (23rd), I went to support co-workers/friends at the "Annual Women of Today Talent Show" at the American Legion in town. The next day (24th), I took the "Defensive Driving Class", which my part-time job requires all of their employees to take. It was a great "reminder class" to learn to "slow down" in life.

It started to feel like "more" Spring on Thursday (25th) as I came home from work and put up the bird feeder out in my yard for the first time. I then put the solar lights along the sidewalk.

I went to a spaghetti feed fundraiser for the local fitness center at the elementary school on Friday (26th) with Adnan and some friends. They had a little dance going on at the gym of the school, which was fun! On Saturday (27th), I played outdoor "street-basketball" with a couple friends at the nearby court across the street from my house since it was a beautiful day. The following day (28th-Sunday), I took my housemate to my local church potluck after service. Then we went to a bowling fundraiser for the local Morris Life Care Pregnancy Center. We ended the eventful day with a "scream" (rock) concert at campus, which various bands ( Lessons + Word Will Spread + Zealot + Tracings) performed.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Gratitude: March 2013

I started the month hanging out with friends during a movie night. I then went to Body Pump the following Saturday to start my 1st weekend of the month. We had a guest (housemate's college friend that transferred to another school) over during the week visiting. I then went to the Spanish-speaking church on Sunday, which they had a potluck-great Mexican food!

On Monday (4th), I shoveled more (1-3 inches) and then worked more of on the basement (re-screwed the kitchen cabinets with the help of a friend-Clint the next day). The weather was bad enough on Tuesday (5th) that the schools were closed. On the 6th (Wednesday), one of our volunteers made some brownie chocolate cake for our weekly ESL/GED classes.

I went to the cities the 2nd weekend of the month for my monthly visit. We did a movie (Atonement) night on Friday, then hung out at Maplewood Mall on Saturday after getting new prescription glasses, and celebrated my birthday (got gifts: sister-sweater, brother-camera light accessory, dad-buffet, and mom-sweater) early by going to a local buffet restaurant in St. Paul. I noted in my calender that I was "thankful" to God for the safe drive to and from (icy roads along State Highway 28) the cities this weekend trip!

On the 12th, I had a new housemate (Adnan) that moved here all the way from Pakistan. He was introduced to me by another friend working at the USDA Soil's Lab as researcher intern. His visit started a little "bleak" as his luggage was lost, but was later found and delivered 2 days later. I took him to zumba with me on Thursday (14th), which he appeared to enjoy. Prior to going to Zumba, I roof shoveled for a co-worker as she's been having a lot of icicles on her roof and I wanted it cleared as much before the next storm (following day). We did have a "Snow Day" the next day (Friday, 15th), which I took advantage of the free-time to clean (e.g. Adnan's bedroom, which was needed cleaning as I haven't done a thorough cleaning like this since I moved in back in 2006!). On Saturday, I invited Adnan to his first pancake feed (with another friend-Eric) fundraiser (for eye glasses to "3rd" world nations) and then Journey that evening.

On Sunday (St. Patrick's Day), Kris shared at my local church about how we need to be more "open and real", which I took it as Christians need to be less "fake" and be more "open" about sharing our daily struggles to let others know that we go through some "hard times" and we need lean on each others' shoulders. This was similar to a "word of encouragement" given by a brother in the Lord last month at the local church. On the 18th (my birthday), we had another "Snow Day". This made it a 4-day weekend! It was a blizzard that dropped 2-4 inches of snow. It was somewhat a birthday gift as I was able to stay home (worked several hours at the group home as I was called in since there wasn't much to do with many places closed in town), but couldn't celebrate since one of the restaurants I wanted to "party" at was closed :(. The next day (19th), my workplace started 2 hours later. My workplace celebrated my be-lated birthday on the 20th (Wednesday), which I'm very grateful for the people I work with. I then attended Zumba (Thursday 21st) with the "kid" I've been taking weekly with and his younger brother decided he wanted to join us this time.

The following day (Friday, 22nd), I had a chance finally to eat out at Water's Edge in Starbuck, Minnesota. I've heard so much about this place, but time never allowed me to check this place out. A "friend" (Neil) that I've been chatting off and on at the RFC actually invited me as he wanted to "learn more" about me.

On Saturday, March 23rd-I went to Andes Towers Hills to go snow-tubing with friends, which was the 1st time for 2 of them (Pakistani and Filipino)...

Andes Tower Hills March 23rd 2013

GoodnewsMinnesotaInfo's Andes Tower Hills March 23rd 2013 album on Photobucket

The following Sunday was "Palm Sunday", which I wasn't able to attend any church services as I was in the cities for a one-day visit for the annual "Philippine Day" at St. Paul's Landmark Center. I brought the same 2 friends that went with me to Andes the other day. It was great bonding time! My dad seem to enjoy talking with Andrew about his life in the Philippines. My dad openly shared about the "girls" he encountered during his younger days attending school (college) as Andrew shared about the various regions he's been to in the upper region of the Philippine islands. After our short 1 hour visit at my parent's home, we went with my sister and mom to this annual event...

GoodnewsMinnesotaInfo's Philippine Day at Landmark Center in St Paul 2013 album on Photobucket

....It was great to eat some Filipino food, which I've missed it since my trip to the Philippines last Fall! I met some "child-hood" friends (Sara & Bernard via my Aunt Toni) at the event, which was great to catch-up....

 photo March24th2013twincitiestripCanon046_zpsaf392aed.jpg

Also, I submitted a photo for the first time at this annual event, which I didn't expect to win. I just wanted to "try" and be part of this event as a active participant.

On Tuesday, March 26th-I took Adnan to Jane Adams for the 1st time. The theme at this weekly gathering was a participant (Fredrico) sharing about Mexican culture (e.g. bailando-dancing). He made it fun by having all of us "try" to dance, like a mini-dance class.

On "Good Friday" (29th), we had a 1/2 day off from work (supposed to be a full day off, but it was part of a "make-up" due to our on-going winter weather related "Snow Days"). I took advantage of the nice weather (50 F) by wearing shorts to the local gym and roof shoveling (prevent small leak at one of my renter's bedroom).

I had to work the overnights during Easter Holiday weekend, so I wasn't able to go home to the Twin Cities. I didn't mind since I've already visited family 2x this month alone. On Saturday, I went to visit a friend in Moose Lake prison with a mutual friend. It was a great trip to catch-up with this mutual friend, who is friends with the family of the inmate.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Gratitude: February 2013

The month started cold as it reached 5 above zero (less than an inch of snow, so NO 2-hour late start at my workplace this time) after having temperatures 17 below zero the previous day. I watched Lord of the Rings movie and got "motivated" to be more of a warrior against "evil".

I went to the Saturday morning "Body Pump" fitness classes every weekend this month except the last one. It was great social time with some folks from my local church and rest of the campus-community. Also, it's a great way to start the weekend.

On Sunday, February 3rd-I volunteered to chaperone a "Youth Super Bowl Gathering" at a local church (Hossana Worship Center) since I took a "youth" that I've been "befriending" 1:1 since last summer. He appeared to had a great time as I too had fun playing a couple of pick-up volleyball games (Adults vs. high school youth), which my teat lost the 1st and won the 2nd game (close win and the youth lost part of the team because it was getting to the end of the night). The Baltimore Ravens narrowly beat the San Francisco 49ners (almost came back after a 30+ minute or so "blackout") at Louisiana.

I helped out with others with the Pre-Testing of ESL students at the campus on Monday the 4th. It was great turnout for both students and volunteers!

I drove to Alexandria on the 5th to return a handrail that was too short for my basement stairway. After dropping it off, I went to Office Max to "window shop". While checking out, some stranger nervously waited for me and asked if I owned a car he "accidentally" hit. I told him to not worry about it as there was hardly any dents. I thanked him for his honesty as we depart from each other in the parking lot. I then took advantage of my time there by visiting a former housemate, who left a message on my old home phone # with another former housemate. He gave me a free trial membership to the local YMCA. After working out for about an hour in the cardio machines, I was more satisfied and appreciated of our facility (RFC) back in Morris. It might not be as fancy as the big nationwide chain fitness centers as Bally's or Gold's Gym, but we got almost a "first-class" fitness center for West-Central Minnesota! We met together to catch-up as he shared how he found his new "Christian Faith"!

I had a new temporary route at my full-time job as I drove the mini-van to Benson each morning and afternoon. I did this for a week and half with several days missed due to "bad weather". It was a fun route as it was something different from my daily routine (in-town route). On Friday the 8th, we had our annual "Valentine Dance" at Clinton (30 minutes west of Morris). This time, it was above (24 F.) zero for the 1st time that I can remember in many years. It was great weather for driving my Benson route!

I was invited at a friend's house from my local church, which a guest (ESL student) cooked some great Cambodian food...

Cambodian Stir-Fry with Pork prepared by Sareum B. ....more...

Church was cancelled for the 1st time in so many years on Sunday the 10th due to a 12" blizzard (6 inches Sunday morning and another 6" or so in the afternoon). We ended up having service at the pastor's house for those in-town that can make it. I was hoping to make it, but I didn't get my alley shoveled till close to 10am. I'm very thankful to my neighbor Bill who lives 2 doors down who shovels my and others front side-walk in our entire block all the time. I usually try to return the favor by using my roof-shovel to help him and other of my neighbors. As I drove to my pastor's house in the west-side, I couldn't get into his alley. Thurs, I wasn't able to make it to the special service. The roads were really bad driving around that time of the day, but I was able to get around. It would get worse as the next day, we had a "Snow Day" (my work and local schools were closed). I had to work my pt-job at the group home on Sunday night, which was "bad" driving in-town itself. I made it to the front of my workplace safely, but couldn't get in the driveway. I ended up getting stuck trying to get through it. It took over 15 minutes to get myself out (thanks to a local cop-Anita, who helped shovel a path through the snow). I even slipped and fell back as I was running to hurry-up!

The next morning (11th), I couldn't get into my garage of my house since the city hasn't plowed my alley this early (7ish) in the morning of the blizzard. I ended up parking up-front and got my lab top to bring it to Common Cup. I would hangout at the local coffee shop for 5-6 hours since work was cancelled. I took advantage of a gift card I got and would end-up having breakfast and lunch while working of my on-going computer projects.

I would meet another rape victim online, which she shared her story of how she was raped by a neighbor for over a year of constant abuse. Why a year? She was threatened by this neighbor at age 14 if she ever told anybody! :( I've been sending her on-going testimonies of other rape victims to encourage her.

On Valentines Day (Thursday 14th), I would start bringing my friend's 8 year-old son (Dimitri) with me to a weekly fitness class called "Zumba" every Thursday evenings (@7p-8p). This time was a break for the "mom" with her other kids and this is also part of my "mentoring" New Year's goal. He has been enjoying this time as we both get exercise and getting good conversations (e.g. school) during our short drive to and from.

On Sunday (17th), I was scheduled to "greet" at my local church. I was blessed to get a "word of encouragement" about "being more open with fellow believers (2 or 3) for accountability purposes as the Devil/Satan likes to deceive us that we are alone on whatever we are going through (e.g. "struggling with challenges")" from a fellow "older brother in Christ".

Later in the day, I drove to Alexandria with a friend to go snowboarding at Andes Tower Hills in Kensington, Minnesota. I "thought" it was ideal weather (30's), but the roads going from Cyrus to Kensington was pretty challenging to (did a 180 on the slippery state highway north of Kensington to State Highway 29) and from (slowly slipped off the road, but my friend Chris was able to push my car as I slowly backed up from the edge of the pavement). It was windy, so I was glad I brought my face mask. I not only enjoyed the great fluffy snow for snowborading, but the great time chatting with the various people (e.g. 2 international students from China, ski-patrol that used to live in Morris that worked at the group homes, the ski-lift guy himself with his great lines, etc...) I met along the ski-lift rides.

The next day (18th-Monday), my workplace closed earlier (1/2 day of work or so only) due to increasing "bad weather" conditions (blizzard-like). The following day became a "Snow Day", which we had close to 39 below zero windchills. I still got around town to do some errands (grocery shopping) with my housemate. I was called-in to my "second" job (PCS-group home: 4-11pm) since a co-worker couldn't get out of his home due to high snow drifts caused by the high winds. I texted my sister our forecast while she was visiting our Aunt in Florida.

On the last weekend of the month, I had to go to Alex for our every other month or so ABE (Adult Basic Education) meeting. I got back in time for Dairy Queen's 50% off "everything" sale as part of their annual "Customer Appreciation Day". On Sunday, there was a special joint services of 3-different churches in pre-lude to this "World View Conference". It was a great time to meet other's in the family of Christ. I was very humble to see my pictures posted in my local church's newseletter, which I took (along videos) of this great "Kodak moment" (churches' unity-John 17)! This was a 2-day conference about challening each other on the way we look at the world (e.g. from a sociological perspective), which you can see notes in above link. On Monday (25th), my niece had a piano recital, which my sister shared (pics) via email and videos from my brother's in-law via facebook. I'm so glad for technology to be able to do this since I coudn't make it.

On Tuesday, a co-worker's dad passed away, which he was a WWII vet. I had a chance to chat with another WWII Vet while waiting in-line at the local funeral home during the "Wake Service". He (Leslie N. from Donnelly) and I have had previous conversations, but he was very open to share more. He was an MP in the Philippines, which he shared stories about his work with the roads that were damaged from Japanese bombings. While he was working along with the Army Corps of Engineers, he met the Filipino President (Manuel Quezon) at that time. He didn't remember his name as he told me this story, which I would tell him as it was refershed in my mine as I told him I visited Corregidor Island last Fall (November 2012).

On the 27th (Wednesday), a friend finished completing a quick 2-day project of putting safety covers-handrails of my basement apartment. I tried to do this myself (using fancy ballusters), which I had no-luck. I wished I contacted him earlier on this project instead of spending on expensive materials that I ended up not using. It looks beautiful!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Gratitude:January 2013

I still continued what I left off last month-year with sharing pics of my recent trip to the Philippines with friends. If your interested in seeing it, feel free to contact me and I would love to present a short-long version of my slideshow either at your house or my house (I'll cook whatever you like-Filipino dishes?). I bought a 3-month membership to attend any fitness classes (e.g. Ultimate Fitness Challenge, Zumba, High Intensity Training, etc..) at the local gym, which I didn't even use it the whole month of December. I decided to use it as much in January with the "cold" winter month. It was worth paying the extra fee for the unlimited fitness classes within the 3 months because it has kept me physically active during this long winter month.

I hosted a movie night (Residential Evil) with a couple of close friends, which I took advantage of a coupon for a free Red Box rental. I know it's fiction ("fake"), but I'm alway skeptic about the closeness to "reality" (e.g. biological testing) this movie has in their plot. The following day, I would help videotape a friend's "Christening" (child's dedication to growing in faith in Christ) at my local church.

I started the 3rd "work" week by attending a special evening community meeting with Stevens Forward. I can't remember now what year I started volunteering with this county-wide group, but it's been an interesting journey. We talked about 5 "new" revamping Destiny Drivers or goals as a county-wide community at a local venue in Morris.

On the 18th of the month, I went to Andes Tower Hills Ski Resort for the 1st time this winter season. It was "ideal" weather as the high temp was around 40 Farenheit, so I "last minute" contacted a friend after no responses on my inviation on facebook to join me. Chris rented ski's while I brought my snowboard. It was awesome to finally snobwobard here for the 1st time since over 2 years since last year wasn't a "real" (hardly any snow) winter.

On Saturday (19th), I played several pick-up games of volleyball with my housemate/renter's friends at the local gym. I haven't played a game of this sport for a long time, which it was fun!

I attended the supper part of the annual "Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service" at a local church in town. It was great to see the current college students involved in the community...

I recorded on my calender that it reached around 30 below zero on the 22nd, which would become something we would be getting regularly throughout the winter.

The 23rd was "National Pie Day", so we were treated with homemade baked apple pie by my co-worker...

I went home the last weekend of the month. I went to get a movie rental from Red Box, which I got the recent "Bourne" movie. I got this movie because I've heard so much about this from my relatives when I was visiting the Philippines 3 months ago. About 1/3 (ending) of the movie is based on the Philippines, which was very inspiring to see after just visiting there recently. The following day (Saturday 26th), I would drive my mom and sister around to go shopping. In the afternoon, I brought my nephew to a special event celebrating a Filipino hero (Jose Rizal) at a church in Roseville, Minnesota. ...

We (nephew & I) "last minute" went to check the popular "Crash Ice" in downtown St. Paul. It was so cold, we stayed for only 15 minutes after it started as we waited close to 45 minutes prior in the cold by the St. Paul Cathedral. The next day after celebrating my younger bro's birthday early, I would have an adventerous drive back to Morris (a 2-hour trip to Alexnadria became a 3-hour: sleet, rain, snow- trip along I-94)...

Just like almost a repeat to the winter of 1997, I didn't have to come back to Morris this early taking the chances driving through the storm. My workplace ended up starting 2-hours late due to the dangerous weather. I'm just thankful to God that I didn't get into a car accident like back in 97', which there were many along the way (especially between Sauk Centre and Alexandria, which I was almost driving close to 70mph as it was raining. I thought it was ok, but I finally slowed down to almost 30mph when I started seeing all these cars that went off the highway). My workplace had their 1st "Snow Day" several days later (31st), which we had windchills close to 30 below zero weather.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Gratitude: December 2012

I'm slowly getting back to the "normal life" in the USA after being back a week now from my trip to the Philippines. I went to "Journey" for the first time since I got back. I would share with several people there about my recent trip, which would be just the beginning. The following Sunday, I hung out after Sunday service with a couple of friends (one was a former UMM Alumn-Mark, who lives down in the Twin Cities now) at the "popular hangout" (Don's Cafe).I then attended a special Christmas program at Faith Lutheran Church that "friends" from my workplace (Stevens County DAC) performed.

I then helped out with giving test to current ESL students at the University on Monday, which the UMM students that volunteer weekly teaching ESL has been doing a great job! The students that were post-tested (after weeks of learning after taking a pre-test) had a great score (90% of the students "moved-up" a level)!

Another daily routine I got back after my trip was working out at the local gym. I ate pretty healthy in the Philippine and it taught me to discipline on the foods I eat, so I didn't have to workout to "lose weight/fat". Instead, just to maintain my cardio exercise, which I ran my 15-minutes on the treadmill on Thursday (7th). I saw my "first" significant snow fall since my trip on Friday (8th), which we had about an inch.

Throuhgout this last month, I had to use my Morris Area Schools Savings Book (fundraiser for local music dept.) before the coupons expires the end of the year. I use these coupons as "gifts" for friends (e.g. college students/alumns, a youth and kid I mentor as a volunteer) in the area by taking them out (8th-Pizza Hut, Common Cup-31st, Bella Cucina-31st, Dairy Queen-30th & 31st ,etc..). It was good "quality times" with friends, which I have to start "earlier" next year and spread the "outings".

It was "very" cold the 2nd full week of the month and I ended-up getting "sick" (funny feeling in my throat) . It got worse after going swimming with some clients at work on Tuesday (11th) after coming out of the "cool" pool and being exposed in the "cold" weather. I had to call in-sick for the 1st and only time this year at work the following day (12th). I then came back to work the next day (13th), but my co-workers felt I should've stayed home. A couple of other co-workers were sick, so I felt I needed to come and help with the annual "Christmas Tea Party". I got home and took a good nap afterwards.

GAS PRICES: 14th-$3.12, but $3.07 after using my (Willies) Shop & Save Discount Card

On Sunday, December 16th-I went to Wilmar (1 hour south of here) with friends from work (Stevens County D.A.C.) to see a beautiful well-done Christmas play on the "Nativity". I was very blessed by the whole play as it was a "challenge" to seek the "(Jesus is the) Reason" for the season! I just wanted to thank God also for the safe trip to and from Wilmar as the roads were very icy as I had to drive (back to Morris) slow (sometimes 45 mph on 55mph highway).

I had my bi-annual dentist appointment on Tuesday (18th), which I had a good report. They told me to keep doing what I'm doing (daily floss, mouth wash, electric tooth brush-more upper back teeth). I then went to the RFC to do my cario workout-ran the treadmill for 15 minutes (able to do 1 mile in 8:15, which is much slower than what I was able to do back in my high school days-7:11).

I volunteered my last day of the year of the weekly (Wednesdays @6-9p) ESL/GED classes at the local elementary school. We had a theme on the holiday of Christmas, which we learned the different types of celebrations from the different countries (Mexico, India, etc..) represented in the students we have.

goodnewsmorris's Morris Literacy Project December 2012 album on Photobucket

My last day at my full-time job was Friday (21st-so called "Doomsday") where we had our end-of-the-year annual "Christmas Party". We hand out gifts to all the 70 estimated clients and got gift cards to each other as staff.

I was looking forward to my 1 1/2 week vacation from my full-time job, but had to work full-time hours at my "part-time job". I didn't mine working the holidays as I worked 5-days in a rown in order to get 3 days off in a row to visit family for a post-holiday vacation.

On Sunday (23rd), I went to finally the "holiday season anticipated" movie -"The Hobbit", which I got more "evil vs. good" symbolism as I did from the Lord of the Rings series (see European: United Kingdom-English & British of England-Britain ). I'm currently (January 1st 2013) writing about this movie and the "previous" movie-Lord of the Rings: Tower 2.

During my "vacation" (day time after my overnight shifts 11p-7am) from my full-time job, I was able to catch-up on some projects (e.g. cleaning, basement projects-put curtains, multi-media "endless" work: upload pictures from the Philppines, websites, etc...). I then went home from the 26th-28th to visit family, which I was able to finally share pictures from our 2-week trip to the Philippines since I wasn't able to share more when I got back since I had to drive to Morris when my plane arrived (on Sunday, November 25th).

It has been cold the past 2 holidays (Christmas and New Year, we 've reached almost 10 below zero both mornings-but it stayed above zero y 9am or so today). I would do a presentation of my trip to the Philippines at my local church this past Sunday (30th), which I was supposed to do only a 5-minute slideshow. Well, the slideshow was 5-minutes, but due to technical difficulties (e.g. slideshow wouldn't show on the big screen at the local h.s. auditorium) and so much I wanted to share-it ended up being 10-15 minutes!! A great sports update is the Minnesota Vikings won against our arch-rivals ("border battle") -Packers of Green Bay, Wisonsin! This was the last regular game of the season and we now get to face them again (3rd time this football season) this Saturday (January 5th 2013)! Go Vikes!