Saturday, December 12, 2015

November 2015

I spent the week back to "reality" doing my regular schedule and errands (e.g. raking) in Morris. I would share bits of my time of Hawaii last month from a day to day basis on my facebook photography site. It was "ok" weather, but not too cold. I was able to till my garden during the first week of the month. I also finally was able to get new tires in my new purchased bike after struggling with a cheap bike tire replacement tool. The weather has been nice and above average lately until Thursday (12th) as it got the coldest all season. Unfortunately, it was just one day and it got warmer afterwards. I haven't been used to the cold that I didn't go outside to watch it till the "last minute", but was late as the parade was over. The weather got so warm that I was doing a digging (egress project) for a friend of mine with just a shirt on Saturday (14th).

The temps started to drop throughout the third week. My friend was going to try to have me do one more egress window digging project, but haven't been able to with colder temps. Towards the end of the third week, there was a theatrical play my former director (for Aladdin) was doing. I was interested in checking it out as some friends (e.g. church) were in it. Plus, I wanted to enjoy watching it as an audience member instead of a performer. I went to workout on Friday (20th) after work and decided to just drive straight to the high school "last minute" to watch. I came there to find a long line and wasn't sure if I'll be able to see it as showtime was getting close. The director (Joe) came down from the booth to see the long line and decided to wait till everybody came in. While waiting, this lady came out of the auditorium waving a single ticket to see if anybody was solo. She came up to me and I said-"Yes"! I was very happy as I left the back of the line and went straight in to sit with this lady's (Allison) family-friends. I happen to know some of the people she was sitting with, so that made it less "weird". She ended up sharing that she saw me at "Real Ministries", so that made it even more comfortable sitting with these folks. The play went well and I had to take a pic with some of the characters before I left...

I would later make a comment on the event wall of "The Addams Family Musical" and a friend replied if I can tape the show. I thought to myself, I knew this was going to happen! ;)...I thought it was a "sign" after another "hint" from a friend on FB giving me a hint about it. I decided to do it by going to the matinee performance (2pm), which I had to get all my gear ready. Unfortunately, right before intermission, I ran out of space in my camcorder. I was like sweating, but not too much as a couple of people were videotaping the event. Plus, I had the evening performance to tape as a back-up. However, I wasn't feeling as "energized" as my eyes were bothering me. I would later find out it was "pink eye", so I was praying I didn't affect anybody. After coming back for the evening performance to video tape, I would rush out of that place right away as I didn't want to affect anybody. I thought it was a "God divine" thing that I had technical difficulties as I had some great conversations with a couple of community residents in the evening show too. Isn't that cool? May this be a lesson to all of us that things don't workout the way we plan as there is sometimes another door of opportunity for God wants to use us-just gotta be open and willing!

I started the 4th week with my once a month worship team service, which I look forward to worshiping God by singing-along with learning new songs and practicing singing too. I then went to the Chinese restaurant with a friend from Jane Addams to talk about my presentation on the Philippines next month. It was my first time eating there too after it has opened for over most of the year. I then had to miss work on Monday (23rd) due to my "pink eye", which I got diagnosed after seeing a doctor later in the afternoon. I got the "ok" to work the next day after getting my anti-biotic eye drops. I was kind of hoping I would get the permission by the doctor to rest for several days-have the whole week off, but that didn't happen..he he! :( Ironically, I scheduled my physical exam the same week, which was good news! I found out I had good lab results after a blood test for cholesterol level, sugar level, etc.....praise the Lord! I thank God for good health and getting wisdom on making wise healthier lifestyle choices!

We had great weather prior to thanksgiving day, which I would drive to the cities late Wednesday night to avoid the holiday rush hour going to the Twin Cities along I-94. I ended up leaving around 6ish from Morris and didn't have to deal with any traffic compared to last year. I ended up stopping at Albertiville Outlet Mall to get a pair of shoes. I went to one of the stores and they told me they have their "Black Friday Sale" already after I asked if their were any sales going on. I got $10 of a pair (final cost of $45 only, cool huh?) of cool looking Nike shoes. It was my first Nike pair of shoes since my extravagant high school days. Another blessing, I'm thankful for, which I try to be grateful all season long.

It was a great visit visiting family for the Thanksgiving weekend. I was able to hangout with all of my family members. I didn't do too much big. I just wanted to spend quality time with family (e.g. sharing pics of last month's trip to Hawaii and learning more about my dad's past). I was also able to get my battery holder fixed after a long time dealing with my loose battery cables. Also, I spent most of the weekend preparing my Philippine presentation, which I would chat with my dad of what I found out. I felt like a college student again!

Friday, December 11, 2015

October 2015

It was the annual UMM Homecoming the first weekend of October. It was another year that a couple of friends came up to visit, which one of them didn't make it for the first time last year. It was good to see both of them again as we caught up on how each of us have been doing. I would "try" to meet all of them at the Tailgate Party by Big Cat Stadium, but they ended up coming late as I left. However, I would try to keep occupied and do some wall climbing...

..before I left. This year, my friend Shannon brought up his girlfriend, which was the first time for her to visit. We would take her to one of the newest restaurants in town-Mi Mexico...

..., which we decided "last minute" as we walked by the popular crowded "Don's Cafe". Unfortunately, they had to leave early Sunday morning, so they weren't able to attend some other events going on around town on Sunday (4th): I had my monthly worship team service and then I attended the annual "Options for Women" Banquet at the Morris Evangelical Free Church. There was a guest speaker that encouraged us supporters to not just wait for this annual banquet to support this organization, but we should try to support them all year round.

The following day (5th), I would get a chance to catch up with a married couple that I haven't seen for a long time (since their wedding earlier this year). We would meet at Common Cup, which I ended up doing a fundraiser video to encourage friends to come to their "spaghetti feed" (help cover medical expenses for his scoliosis) later this month while I'm at Hawaii. I then went to meet with my pastor to catch-up for a dinner at Old #1 before our weekly "Focus Prayer" (church prayer group).

I would take the day off on Friday (9th) from my ft-job, so I can get on the road to visit family in St. Paul before heading to Waseca for a friend's (former housemate/renter) wedding. Yuu just got back with his wife (coming to America for an American wedding after being married in Japan last year) from Japan a week or so ago. It was nice to explore some new towns I went through along the way as I was thankful to God for a beautiful drive.

I arrived around 1ish in time for the wedding rehearsals, which I would meet friend of both the groom and bride. It was such a great bonding time and I had the most fun with the wedding reception (karaoke party)!...

I ended up leaving right after the reception and would get home a little past midnight.

I woke up early Sunday (11th) morning in St. Paul to ride my bike along the newest open bridge trail (Warner to Shepherd road)...

Biking along the "newest" Warner-Shepherd Road Trail Bridge (Oct. 11th 2015)

...I've been waiting all summer long for this to open. I had a tight schedule, so I wasn't able to ride all the way to downtown like I wanted to. However, I got pretty far, which it was an hour round trip. I ended up meeting this "stranger" who would share about some interesting "sights" (e.g. deer carcass eating up to the bones-possible creature???) and stories of the caves nearby (Mounds Park).

I had about 5 days in Morris before heading back to the Twin Cities in preparation of my trip to Hawaii with family. I was able to visit a friend (Steve) who was somewhat going downhill health wise. I'm glad I took the time to see him as he would pass away 5 days or so later. I've learned to really take advantage of the time you have with family, friends, etc..-love ones period.

I got to St. Paul on the 17th (Saturday), so I can have some day of preparation before heading out of the state early next (Sunday 18th) morning (around 6ish). I was looking forward to a week-plus spending time with family and just enjoying this much to say vacation island destination. When I got to St. Paul, I went to visit my uncle at a senior living center. It seems like my work follows me. While visiting my uncle, I can hear one of his neighbors screaming. My uncle told me to not worry as she does this at times. I would find out later that she was screaming because she fell from her wheel chair. I felt bad as I could've helped her get back on. I could hear the commotion of some staff helping her up on her wheelchair. When I arrived home, I checked my luggage for additional items to pack. I went online to look-up surf videos as I wanted to find the cheapest way possible to learn before paying the expensive rates. The next morning, we got up early and were thankful to Khua's side of the family for taking us to the airport. Yes, my work continued to follow me as I went on the plane. I would meet this interesting lady that would share some of her interesting life story-> Flight Passenger Travel Stories: Round Trip Minneapolis-St. Paul to Seattle-Tacoma to Honolulu (my first blog on my travel adventures!). We had a 12 hour delay in Seattle along our flight to Hawaii from Minnesota. My brother and his wife already scheduled a rental car to drive around Seattle, which was a very beautiful city despite the rainy cloudy afternoon.

“Sleepless in Seattle” Downtown Visit 2015

We still had several hours to "kill", so we drove out of Seattle and looked for a popular attraction. Seattle is surrounded by many high mountain ranges and one of the closest popular one was Mount Rainier. Unfortunately, the cloudy weather prevented us seeing the mountain, but we did see the base.

It was getting close to departure, so we went back to the Seattle-Tacoma Int'l Airport and were anticipating for our 5-hour flight to Hawaii. We arrived in Honululu Int'l Airport around 11ish at night and had to drive an additional hour to our hotel in Laie (North Shore). We were all tired and I remember asking the lady in the front desk about the nearest place to surf. I would sleep pretty good in the room I shared with my parents. I would get up early and was excited to walk the town to see what we couldn't see in the dark last night. I walked to the nearest grocery store in Laie after googling. It was a humid-muggy morning already, which was nice! When I got back to the hotel with some grocery items (e.g. gallon of water since the hotel charged a-lot!), my brother shared about our road trip along the North Shore. It was a beautiful day for a scenic drive along the shore! We stopped by one of the beaches and I would just marvel the scenery..

Hawaii Visit: Oahu’s North Shore Drive Tour

Saturday, December 5, 2015

September 2015

Fall season of ESL classes started with a new student from China at the Morris Literacy Project on Wednesday (2nd). It was a good way to start the new season after a slow summer. However, I had to leave early since I had rehearsals still for the Aladdin musical. We had a day off from rehearsals on the 4th (Friday) and it was the "last" Friday of no work for the summer season. I took advantage of the "last Friday off" by visiting a friend in Lino Lakes Prison with a friend, which it was a "life lesson" (map reading) adventure.

The next day (Saturday 5th), I attended the once a month community worship called Real Ministries. One of the guest speakers (Jenny) shared about J.O.Y, which I tied to my character (Jafar) in the musical play I was in and wrote this blog-> Disney Character: Jafar-"Why M-E?". I used this Labor Day weekend to not only write this blog, but to do other fun activities (e.g. biked to Pomme De Terre Park).

We had our last week of rehearsals before our two performances at the end of the week on the 4th (Friday) & 5th (Saturday). I did a lot of mental, physical, and spiritual preparations (see Music: Tips for singers with “dry” throats?). It turned out to be a great personal experience for me and a self-confidence booster.

I would continue my bike contest (e.g. going to Pomme De Terre Park) throughout the rest of the month as it was the last month of this competition.

I attended the 2nd annual "Storm the Planet Conference" at my local church. I would later share the importance of taking "notes" and now applying it in our daily lives the following Sunday during shares. During the conference, I was thrown a "curve ball" (unexpected life circumstance), which was just another faith builder challenge. I would later share this at church too -> Visiting those “sick” in the hospital .

On Thursday (24th), I attended my once a month worship practice for my local church in preparation for Sunday's worship team service. I was inspired to write this parody after practice..

I would try to ride my bike as much as I can towards the last days of the month and here were the results of this summer long competition..

Sunday, September 13, 2015

My first theatrical experience (Aladdin the Musical at the Park)

It's the morning (Sunday, September 13th 2015) after our last of two nightly theatrical performances. I wanted to share my thoughts of my first experience in theatre while it's fresh in my memory. First, I can say I can cross this off my checklist of my "bucket list" in things I always wanted to do in my life. I was too shy growing-up, but got more "social" during my college years due to many factors (e.g. small college campus community and mostly because of my new growing "faith" (see personal testimony).

I decided to audition for this particular performance because I'm a huge fan of musicals overall. I love singing..."I try". Since growing-up, I somehow just love the movie musical ("Sound of Music"-Music: Karaoke-"Edelweiss"). If anyone that reads this and knows of any auditions for this, please let me know :)! In fact, it's coming "locally" (St. Paul's Ordway Theatre this winter-Christmas season). I first heard about these auditions from the local paper (Morris Sun Tribune (Community invited to join Plays in the Park By Kim Ukura on Jul 18, 2015 at 5:13 a.m.) , which I regularly read online almost nightly to read "whats happening" in my local community. I got very excited and clicked on a link on "Plays in the Park". I immediately started practicing the lines of Aladdin's song "One Jump". I thought after competing in the Kiwanis Talent Show the month prior (June), I felt confident to do this. However, my original intention in auditioning for Aladdin was to get a "minor" role with this being my first theatrical experience. When I auditioned the second of two days on Friday (August 7th 2015), I didn't know what to expect. It was my first auditioning experience. They asked me to sing one of the character's songs. I decided to choose Aladdin's "I Can Show You the World" since I've done this song many times. I even told them I know it by heart, so I didn't even to bother to use the song lyric sheet. However, I would realize I really didn't know the lines as I was "messing-up" mid-way of the song. I felt very bad and they told me that was it for auditioning. I felt really bad as I wish I could've shown more. However, they did ask me to fill out an application, which I shared my "resume" of musical performance experiences (e.g. playing the trumpet back at middle school, doing some video recording skits for work (e.g. training videos), etc..) . I wrote down about my participating in the month prior "Kiwanis Talent Show" when I performed "Somewhere Out There" (also a Disney song).

The next day, I checked my email to see if I passed the auditions. I would find out later in the evening and I got a part and was very excited. I kept it a secret from family and friends until weeks later when the topic came up. Our first practice started immediately since the first performance will be a little over a month. We started on Monday (August 10th), which was somewhat an ice breaker and wasn't intense. We had to read the lines of our characters together and got to know each other briefly. However, the number of lines for Jafar was a little overwhelming. It was more than I thought I could handle. I even pondered about quitting because I was thinking this was too much for me. At the time, we didn't have anyone to play Aladdin, so I decided to stay. In fact, I looked around, and I was like the only guy there for the major roles. I decided to stick with it and help out. I believe 2-3 practices later, we found our Aladdin (David), which I even asked Joe earlier if I should advertise around for this missing role. I even emailed and texted a couple of guy friends. Also, I placed a post on one of our facebook groups (Community Needs) . Then the director (Joe) gave us our schedule of rehearsals. I was able to make to most of them except two due to scheduling conflicts. I really needed as much practice as I can, so I decided to skip one "schedule conflict" (annual A.B.E. Consortium "training" meeting). I'm glad I took voice lessons earlier this summer because it helped sustain my voice. I remember the first week of rehearsals, I left early to be part of my local church worship practice. I started to lose my voice this early, so I did a lot of voice exercises my voice lesson teacher (Kurtis) taught me. Also, the necessary "natural remedy" tips (e.g. moisten your throat frequently). On August 26th (Wednesday), I was asked to drive the work bus to Chanhassen Dinner Theatre for our annual trip. I asked my boss if I can have someone work for me because we had rehearsals for the whole of Act 1, which I needed as much practice as I can. Unfortunately, there were no co-workers that could. I wasn't totally disappointed because I was somewhat anxious to see Mary Poppins, which I looooove musicals! I'm glad I was able to go since it gave me some inspiration and ideas to go about doing my theatrical performance with Aladdin!.

During the time of our practices, I decided to do a parody of "I Can Show You the World" from my character's (Jafar) perspective. Here is what I came-up with => Music: Parody-“Creepy Old Cave” (originally from “I Can Show You the World” from Aladdin) by Jafar. Also, I took sometime to reflect on my character and how all of us can be a "Jafar" in life-> Disney Character: Jafar-"Why M-E?"

Our last week of rehearsals were moved from indoors (St. Mary's) to outdoors at the actual performance site..

East Side Park
Disney's Aladdin The Musical - In The Park! of your favorite characters from the hit Disney film – Aladdin, Jasmine, Iago, Jafar, the Genie, and more – are here in Disney’s Aladdin, a musical adventure filled with magic, mayhem, and flying carpet rides. An ensemble of townspeople, shop owners, harem girls, princes, and others round out our amazing cast.Disney’s Aladdin’s tuneful, accessible Academy award-winning score, with songs by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, and Tim Rice, including “A Whole New World” and “Friend Like Me,” will send you soaring.This is a FREE Event! All are welcome to attend!September 11 & 12 @ 7:30pm. Bring chairs and blankets to get comfy!


Plays in the Park presents Disney's Aladdin from

It was somewhat a challenging transition, but it was good to have preparation on the actual site of our performance. During our practice outside, after repeatedly rehearsing the scene where I sing and tease "Prince Ali" being merely "Aladdin". I started to feel sorry for Aladdin while singing. It was one of those moments where I just got out of character. It was one of those interesting acting experiences. On Wednesday (September 9th 2015), our director (Joe) shared about how the local paper will be coming and that we might need to bring sharpies to sign autographs. One of the kids from the ensemble team replied softly to me, "Wow, wee are going to be famous!". I then thought to myself, "I don't want to be famous, I want Jesus to be famous" (I thought of this song rancesca Battistelli - He Knows My Name (Official Audio)) . I responded softly back..." Hollywood", but wasn't too excited saying it. During the performances, I would pray-"Lord, help me do well, so that I glorify you!". I want to use this opportunity in this blog to thank my Creator for giving me these "creative gifts, talents, and skills to do what I was able to do during and after these performances.

The day of the performance, I would create a blog to record my list of Theatrical Performance Tips? for future reference and help others that might go through similar challenges in preparation for a similar or bigger performance. When I got to the park an hour before our performance, one of the kids from the ensemble gave me his autograph after I gave him mine (signed "Jafar...keep shining")

My biggest tip would be getting yourself spiritually prepared. I would meditate on a Bible verse (Psalm 121) the morning before my first performance, which would help me during the performance. I somehow felt "down", so I remembered this particular verse and prayed. I asked God to give me strength to finish this show. Despite missing some lines (one obvious one in the last scene if you watch the video below :( ), I thank God for helping me get through this first one.

Here is a pic from a scene from our 1st evening show..

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Plays in the Park: Aladdin the Musical-1st (Sept 11th 15) Performance Pt 1of2

Plays in the Park: Aladdin the Musical-1st (Sept 11th 15) Performance Pt 1of2 from Sal Photo Biz on Vimeo.

In the second show (Saturday, September 12th 2015), I continued more of my preparation tips. While doing some errands Saturday afternoon, a couple of young teenage boys shouted "great job last night" while biking back home from Thrifty White to develop pictures. One thing I did differently was standing up while practicing my lines earlier and later in the day. I found this tip through a google search too. I then wrote down the lines I missed during the 1st show, so I can get it really on my head. Then I did some meditation (after biking -a pedestrian shouted "great show last night" on my way back home-to the local fitness center to wake me up after a power nap) by listening to some worship song (from Real Ministries last Saturday evening) while putting on my character outfit. I was still a little nervous during our 2nd performance. Another additional activity that helped me was just praying for my fellow cast members when they were performing. Even during the middle of one of my performances between lines, I started praying blessings for the audience in attendance. This somehow helped me get through the nervousness. All this made the 2nd show a lot better. I missed one line and didn't say of my last lines clearly, but thankful I finished! We ended the last night by having a Cast get-together at Pizza Ranch, which we stayed till 10:20ish that evening.

Overall, it has been a great 5+ weeks getting to know some of my fellow cast members and it was fun overall. It was a lot of work memorizing lines, our dance routines, etc... It was definitely a great experience and willing to do this again..hoping for another fun musical!

Good News Theatre


Monday, September 7, 2015

August 2015

I started the month in St. Paul visiting family. I went to the cities for my niece's (Disney theme) birthday. First, I took my mom to Dragon Star for "Asian" grocery food shopping. Both my mom and I got Bubble Tea, which was a good drink to keep cool in this warm sunny day. We ended up getting ingredients to make Halo Halo. Unfortunately all these "cool" sugary desserts increased my mom's blood sugar level, which didn't make her feel good :(. I went to a couple of Bike shops nearby (Woodbury) to "window shop" for a better bike, which I found a model (Shimano) that seem eye-catching. I would later find a cheaper version online since I would have to assemble it myself. I thought this was the better route!
The next day (Sunday, August 2nd 2015), I attended Alysa's 10th birthday, which they organized numerous variety of games. It was fun to see my niece have a good time and has grown a lot! Thank you Lord for a beautiful day!
When I got back to Morris, I continued my bathroom remodeling project, which took less than a week. I felt it was an answer to prayer to get this finish on time as I prayed that a "friend" would pick-up the materials from Menards in Alexandria on-time, and He answered it! I was able to finish ahead of schedule before my renter came back from his vacation overseas.
I attended my first ever auditions for a play called Aladdin, which I did on the 7th (Friday). I just wanted a small minor role with my "no theatrical" experience. I ended up getting the villain role (Jafar). It was more lines than I wanted, but this will be a great experience. I think they were so short of guys that this was probably the best fit character for me! I shared this with my housemate/renter and he confirmed this by saying I look like Jafar (e.g. big eyes, mustache, etc..)!
During this second weekend of August, I did a variety projects besides working on my bathroom. I worked an old bike my "former" housemate (Yuu) donated, which was a lot of work. I would later find out it wasn't fixable. However, I did learn a lot of bike repair skills!
We had our 1st week of practice for Aladdin beginning August 10th. It was somewhat overwhelming at firs as the lines were more than I expected. However, towards the end of the week, I felt more confident. I ended up ordering this vitamin supplement (Tumeric) to help boost my memory to memorize these lines better.
I continued by bike challenge as I found some a couple of new friends (Chase & Dwyer) to bike with on Wednesday (12th of August). Then I went to the annual Stevens County Fair on Thursday (13th) to hangout with various friends. I would unexpectedly meet Eric & Sunny (visiting all the way from Watertown, South Dakota)!
I got my new bike I ordered online on Friday (14th) and got a new egress window pit digging job again. It would take two separate "hot" mornings to finish. I would later share at church the following Sunday (16th) that praying and singing worship songs (some that I was practicing for my local church worship team) gave me strength to finish...Praise the Lord!
On Monday (17th), I got a couple of "used" bikes worked on. I was able to do what I can do with fixing my bikes, so I had my friend/co-worker (Paul J.) use his handy skills. He was able to fix my current bike, which I used to have problems pedaling up the hill. The bike that was donated won't be able to be fix, but I can salvage the parts.
The next day we had some rain, which is always a blessing (compared to what our friends are going through in the northwest section of the country). I would go to the cities for the second time this month on the 21st. I was scheduled to pick-up my friend/current renter (flew from South Korea) on Saturday. I came on Friday early to do family stuff as I played basketball with my niece and nephew. We even saw the wild turkey that has been running around their front yard (was seen "pooping" on top of a vehicle in their driveway the other day).
My friend (Jin)'s plane arrived safely Saturday night despite the severe t-storms (and Tornado watch). Also, he left his country safely despite the threats of neighboring North Korea..thank God! Keep praying for that area of the world. I would attend Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul the next day with my mom before going back to Morris with Jin.
On the 25th (Tuesday), I finished my kitchen tiling project (using new grout). As I was finishing-up, I was getting inspired by a motivational speaker, Nick Vujicic, who is known for with "no arms no legs". A friend/co-worker (Paul J.) shared an inspirational video on his facebook, which got me inspired to listen to more of his speeches.

On Wednesday (26th), my workplace went to Chanhassen Dinner Theatre for our annual trip, which we saw "Mary Poppins". One of my favorite Disney movies growing-up. I was trying to skip this trip, so I can join my peers for our Aladdin (Act 1) rehearsals. However, there was no way getting out, but it was a win-win for me since this just inspired and equipped me more with this up-coming theatrical performance. was a great road-trip with my boss and a couple clients on the 16-passenger bus (Big) that I was in charge of driving back and forth. The next day (27th), I would get a visit from a former ESL student of mine from Uzbekistan. It was good to sit down and eat at Grand Buffet in Alexandria with him and my supervisor from our literacy classes.

I would spend the last weekend of the month by going to St. Paul for the 3rd time within this month (most that I can remember). This time, I chose to go in order to help my sister and James move out of their old apartment to their new one. It was good to visit them and a great time hanging out with my parents while driving to and from. I also took advantage of the weekend for my 20th (Harding Senior) High School reunion, which it was a blessing to catch-up with "old" friends-classmates.

Many memories from 91'-95' :) Anyone else have stories and what year?

Sunday, August 16, 2015

July 2015

I started the first weekend of July by taking my housemate/renter (Jin) to the Twin Cities (Friday, July 3rd). We took advantage of the various restaurants to choose from by going to my favorite Chinese restaurant (in UofM-TC Dinkytown). When we got to my parents' house in St. Paul, he wanted to go for a walk around the neighborhood, so I decided to go biking. I biked to Target with the little traffic along Suburban Avenue. The following day, I took Jin to the MSP Airport and then came back home to do some biking. I would later help my dad trim an apple tree in the front yard, which he was brave enough to stand on top of a high ladder...again! The next day (Sunday 5th), I went biking around Battle Creek Park and then later took my parents to their favorite hangout spot in the Twin Cities. I had the whole 2nd week of July off from my work (ft-job), but I had to work my pt overnight job. However, I asked a co-worker to work my Sunday overnight job, so I didn't have to get back to Morris till Monday afternoon.

When I arrived in Morris on Monday, I went biking more after biking in St. Paul earlier this morning. I'm trying to get as many miles in this national competition. I continued my project of hauling that "extra-dirt" around the front of my house project. i decided to finish this project I started last Fall after a good report from the local plumbers that my "sewer" pipe should be good after it was cleaned. It was a good week of workout removing dirt from my front yard to around the garage...

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I did an average of 2 hours per day during the week vacation, so I can do other fun activities, such as going to Alexandria with a friend (Chris) to Alexandria to swing some pitches in the batting cage at Casey's Amusement Park..

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We then went to Menards to pick-up more materials for my landscaping project. I put mulch along the side of my house. Since I didn't work at all this past week, I decided to help out at the local group homes (pt-job) since they were very "short". I ended up pulling in 54 hours (past over-time) for the next week. It was Prairie Pioneer Days this weekend (10th-12th), which I was able to check the fireworks, parade, and attend one of my favs-Pancake Feed!

ON Monday (13th), I biked again to the WCROC gardens, which has been my nightly bike destination to increase my miles. When I logged in online, I was able to record one of my best ranks (298 place "Locally"-state and 7,400 something "Nationally"-national bike challenge)!

It was a "sad" day at work (ft-job) on Tuesday (14th) as we had to say goodbye to one of the longest co-workers (Lu T.) :(.. We did a farewell party for her as she was my "trainer" back in Avocation since I started back in 2005. The next day (15th), we had an answer to prayer for much needed rain. It was a blessing for the new seeded grass in my front yard after hauling all that dirt.

It was that time of the month for my once a month worship practice for my local church on Thursday (16th), which I would later upload one of my "newest" written songs..

The next day (17th), I took advantage of our Fridays off by doing more (endless) house projects. I pretty much tightened the exterior window frames around my house...

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Then I continued my "old bike" (e.g. ridding of rust) project later in the day. On Saturday (18th), I attended the monthly Real Ministries, which was hosted by my local church. On (21st) Tuesday, I attended a concert in the newest music venue ("Platform"), which a couple friends in different bands performed, which I brought a couple of friends from my workplace.

On Friday (24th), I did my regular 1 1/2 mile run around the local college track. I ran around noonish since the sun was finally out, which is my opportunity to get a more "upper-body" tan. On Sunday (26th), I went to one of my favorite summer events in west-central Minnesota, which was Glenwood's Waterama. My friend Chris and I would later go to Alexandria to drop off a China-set "like" at New Life Church, which a friend shared on facebook the need of donated items for missions and local ministry. I would later find out it was sold to a senior citizen place. Awesome...praise the Lord! Later in the week, I would bike to the WRCROC Gardens for the annual "Horticulture Night".

Monday, July 13, 2015

June 2015

I started the month doing more auto body work (putting primer paint) , which I would work on it for the first 2 days. On Wednesday (3rd), my workplace took some clients to Benson for our annual movie outing. I never heard of the movie, but it was great. I ended up “searching” it online and found out the movie didn't do as well in the “big screens”. I personally thought it was such a good movie, I even made a blog (Movie: Musical-What was Your Favorite Song or Scene in "Strange Magic"? to remember the songs (soundtrack list) and twittered it.

It was the first of four of the weekly “Morris Kiwanis Talent Show” on Thursday (4th). I went to watch the remaining of the 6 performances after my local church “worship team” practice. I'm not playing our men' summer softball team again this year for the 2nd year in a row due to “physical injury”. My right arm is “healing” after arm wrestling with a “friend” that made an illegal move (stood up and used both arms to “try” to put down my arm, which made a “tearing” noise :( ). However, I wrote down on (Friday 5th) that I was able to curl 25 lbs, which is the 1st time to doing any type of this arm exercise since prior to my injury.

On Saturday (6th), I made my every other month trip to St. Cloud to pick-up a “friend” to visit our “friend” in Moose Lake. Unfortunately, it had to be canceled, which I wouldn't know till the “last minute” when I got to my “friend's” house and he told me he thought he contacted me by phone that he wasn't feeling good (e.g. stroke recovery). I took advantage of my time in St. Cloud by visiting my favorite eatery (N.Y. Gyro). I then went to Menards to pick-up more landscaping material.

I continued my on-going driveway project (rubber pavers) on Monday (8th). I'm buying a bunch a little at a time as I was hoping the price will go down, which it has (almost $1-2 cheaper now). On Thursday (11th) after picking-up the Morris Talent Show signs , I went to Willies and didn't realize I lost my wallet until a guy (Kermit, who told me he has seen me around when he used to drive the Morris Transit) came to my front door to drop it off. I was very surprised and was very thankful (Praise God)!. May God bless him :). He told me he found it in the parking lot of the grocery store. This is the 2nd time that a guy in Morris found my wallet since I've lived here, which shows the blessings of living in a small town like this one :)

On the 12th, I went home (St. Paul) for my monthly weekend trip, which is the first of my “Friday-off” 3-day weekend. My parents took me to their favorite restaurant (Cambodian) and then I went biking around Battle Creek Park. The next day, on our (mom and I) way to downtown St. Paul, a car was driving in the wrong lane (our turn lane) and nearly had a “head-on” collision. Thank God, that drive swerve backed to his own lane...thank God! I did my regular outing with my mom to the Asian grocery store (Dragon Star) and while driving, I saw a U.S. Postal Service “mailman” and I drove to catch-up with him and handed him my postcard I was going to drive further away to a postal office. Talking about..God's timing, huh?! :) After going to the St. Paul Cathedral with parents, I went bike riding again in the evening before sun set. I then did my longest bike ride since this local-national competition the next day (Sunday 14th). First, I went around the path by the pet park at Battle Creek Park before church and then to Battle Creek Mountain Bike Trail - Mounds Park after wards. I was hoping to go all the way to downtown, but the path was detoured due to a bridge construction on Warner Road.

On Monday (15th), I released another parody on youtube called "Rip It" (“Push It” by Salt N' Pepa). I had Mohr plumbing come to my house (Tuesday 16th of June) to clean my sewer pipe and use a camera to see the condition of it too. I had a "good" report, which made me decide to finish my landscape project after hints for me to finish it now instead of next year. This was big savings for me too! I had a funny incident at work too when I was “trying” to help a client by bringing her “safety belt”. I asked her if I can help her put it on, but she replied -”I'm going to have a staff help me” as she walked away ;).

On my Friday (19th) off, I also took advantage of my day off by working on my kitchen siding and driveway paving project. The following day, I went with "family friend" to visit his son at Moose Lake. It was supposed to be our last visit in this every other month long drive, so we were happy this could be the last. As I write this, the certainty of his situation is not fully known yet..please keep praying! We then stopped at Molitor's Quarry to watch the Minnesota Twins game and had my favorite sweet potato fries..yumm!

I continued on Sunday (21st) adding to my bike challenge by going 5.4 miles around the local (Morris) bike trails. Then I finished my rubber siding project in my kitchen. The next day, I went to the driving range with a friend (Micah), which I would have probably my best golf driving in terms of hitting it far and close to the flag number of times (w/ the help of the wind) ;)..

I practiced more of my lines for the up-coming performance (Kiwanis Talent Show) throughout the week as a "last minute" decision to enter in the local competition. I wanted to sing another song (Alladin's "I Can Show You the World"), but my duet partner didn't know this song. She suggested this other song, which was Disney also. I told her I'll do it depending how well I can memorize it. I decided to go all out on Tuesday (23rd). Wished we did this during the "adult competitive" round last week, but the number of participants (#14) made it more fun and meaningful (wider and larger audience) on Thursday, June 25th 2015...

On Friday (26th), I met with my local pastor at his house as he wanted to show me the newest bathroom project. We were about to go biking to Starbuck, but was postponed due to this project. While I was there, I saw a song bird (Cardinal)! I would bike 6 miles on Friday (26th) despite the postponement of our bike ride to Starbuck. I did more of the rubber paver project (2 rows at a time after a sale of $2.99). The following day, I decided to finish connecting the drain pipes in front of my house after waiting since last fall. It felt good to finish filling the hole with dirt.

I would continue the landscaping project for the next week as I did little by little. I was able to put mulch that I stored from last fall on top finally on Tuesday (30th). Praise the Lord..thank you for giving me the strength to finish!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

May 2015

I started the new month by heading out of town to St. Paul for my once a month visit. It took me awhile to get out of work (long story)..;)...I'm just thankful to get to the cities from Morris and back safely and sound each time. I decided to go to the cities this particular weekend because of the events going on. The first one was going to the annual "Festival of Nations" at St. Paul's River Center, which I brought my mom, niece, and nephew this year. I've appreciated the diverse cultures more and more after living in Morris each time...

Festival of NationsApril 30th-May 3rd 2015

It was such a beautiful sunny day too, which it was hard to be inside for 2 hours. We enjoyed walking to and from our car to this venue, which I took some great scenic pics along the way if you click on the photo above.

Then, I went to the UofM-TC campus for this birthday celebration of a former UMM faculty member. It was somewhat a UMM reunion too, which it was a blessing to see many familiar faces from different years I've been in Morris as a student and after..

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I then had to leave early so I can attend the "BIG fight" that my younger bro was hosting at his family's house Saturday evening. I played some "night" basketball with some kids out in the back driveway to "kill some time" before the main event. It's always fun playing with the kids of my "other family"..

Manny Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather 2015: Scorecard, Live Round By Round Coverage Of Fight

more.... Good News Sports

I worked out on Monday (4th) and felt great as I benched 185 lbs, which I haven't done this since my college days! However, the bar is "attached" to the machine, so it might not be as heavy as a "free weight" bench. On Thursday (7th), it was the annual "National Day of Prayer", which is always a blessing to join other churches in the Morris community. The next day, I continued this digging project, which I started earlier this Tuesday. I've been asked to do some digging projects by a particular friend after seeing my "solo digging project" I did around my house (front and back). It's a great side-job and workout!

On Saturday (9th), it was a beautiful sunny day and warm enough (not as windy as past years) for the UMM Graduation to be held outdoors on the Campus Mall...

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It was great to see some friends graduate-including my housemate (Jin) from South Korea.

I wasn't able to be home for "Mother's Day" (Sunday 10th), but I made it up by celebrating the weekend before by buying pizza (Dominoes) online for my parents. It's always a good time to reflect how we are thankful for our mothers and to show that appreciation with this significant "holiday". However, we need to do this daily!

On Tuesday (12th), it was our last day of the "season" to go swimming with my workplace. This is one of the best parts of my job! :)

We had a huge "downpour" on Saturday (16th), which caused some minor flooding around town. However, not as bad as some past years. It was "somewhat" better than the tornados (southwest in Swift County) that touched down "not too far" from Morris. I'm just thankful for the big projects I did around my basement to prevent water "overflow". I remember, I would have a "lake" in my backyard, but all the landscaping I did paid off!

On Sunday (17th), it was a fun day at church and after as I was part of the worship team, which I enjoy doing! I then joined some friends (Matt, Nina, and Tony) at the Ranch House for their "noon buffet" (both breakfast and lunch)! It was the young couple's first time there as I wanted to treat them as they were moving and they both graduated, and it was a blessing to be in the worship team with both of them the past year and a half. I then played a short game of tennis with Matt at the Green River tennis courts, but we played like less than 30 minutes or so due to another wave of thunderstorms. I even started seeing lightning in a distance, so we quit before it started pouring.

On Tuesday (19th), I did close to 3 hours of yardwork, which Spring is a busy time of the year -especially with our frequent rain lately. It keeps the grass growing, which one has to mow their yard at least once a week for awhile.

I attended the annual "Women of Today" Prom Dance on Thursday 21st, which a lot of people from my workplace loves to go each year. I too myself as I love dancing. The next day, I helped my pastor (Pat) and his wife move to their "new" house and then I had to leave early to attend a school program my student (G.E.D.) invited me to her church/school that she teaches at. It was a pretty cool experience as I never went to a "Mennonite Church".

On Saturday (23rd), I started a "gutter" project, which was my first time to do for someone else. I've done a small one for my garage, but not for a house. It built my confidence to do more future similar house projects. The following day, I went to Don's Café with a couple of friends from church. It was packed, so it took a "little" longer to get our lunch (waited an hour or so). It was a great fellowship time! It was Memorial Weekend, so I had the next day off. I took advantage of this day to catch-up on "house projects". I even scanned some "old pics" from a photo album I found in my sister's room when I last visited family in St. Paul.

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On the 27th (Wednesday), I had a surprise guest as I was about to head out to go for run at the UMM track as part of my long distance running exercise (cardio). I was running late as I was working on my "house refinancing" via online. I was somewhat frustrated it was taking long, but realize it was for something as my neighbor introduced me to a guy that wanted to come see my house. He was the first owner of my house and whose family build this house. I gave him (along with his daughter and daughter's husband-Severson) a tour of his "old" house (built in the 50's), which he gave a brief history (e.g the carpet in my attic was the same one when he lived

The last weekend of the month was another "productive" one. I helped a friend (Paul) moved some furniture on a sporadic "last minute" call. Then I returned home doing some interesting research on mental illness, which has been "opening" my eyes on the controversy of "prescription medication" and the whole diagnosing. For the last day of the month, I continued more of my biking challenge as I'm trying to get as many miles before the summer ends. I end up riding my bike to the West Central Research Outreach Center, which I saw a deer unexpectedly. I have a video of it too, which I'll be uploading hopefully soon as time permits.

Monday, May 25, 2015

April 2015

I started the month and first day (April Fools Day) by texting my supervisors that I couldn't come to work because I had "Spring Fever" ;)..The next day, I had a dental appointment after work. We had a guest from the state legislature (Jeff B.) visit our workplace to help "voice" the up-coming human services bill this Spring at the State Capitol.

It was "Resurrection Weekend", which we had "Good" Friday off from work. A "member of the community" died of cancer earlier this week, so I attended her wake service early Friday evening. Then I met with a friend from my local church about a possible "computer business" idea, which has been on my mind for years (unsuccessful results with other past meetings unfortunately)...maybe someday! Afterwards, I attended a special Sedar Meal at our local church, which was hosted by a couple (friends-UMM alumns) from the Willmar area.

The Bitter Herb - Preparing Fresh Horseradish

On Saturday (4th), I wanted to enjoy the "Spring-weather" outside, so I went to play tennis with Chris and then headed to DQ for a treat (once in awhile is "ok").

On Monday (6th), It was my mom's birthday, which I sent her flowers (via online) :) Later in the week (Thursday 9th), I took a drawing class offered by the PRCA, which was my first time to "draw" since my college Art class days. I missed doing this, so I plan on ordering some drawing materials to continue this in the future...

I took a one-day (Sunday 12th) trip to St. Paul to help celebrate both my sister and mom's birthdays together as a family. We took them out to Peking Garden on University Avenue. My sister and her boyfriend (James) would do their favorite geocaching. Then we got together to play ball (baseball and tennis ball) behind our parent's house at the playground we grew-up playing. I then left early to get to Morris before severe Spring storms that were forecast, which I made it most of the way as I went through some slower driving conditions getting to Stevens County. I'm thankful to God for getting me home safely!

On Tuesday (14th), a friend (Dan T.) from my local church has a unique (gave $5 that was donated to the 1st #100 people) evening event of sharing the Good News at the college campus! Contact me for pics and videos if interested!

On Saturday (11th), I participated in the monthly "Toast to the Masters" (speaking workshop) at my local church, which we covered the book of Ephesians.

The 3rd weekend (17th-18th) of April, I attended a regional conference called "One Thing" (IHOPKC) at one of my "local-home" church (Redeeming Love Church) in St. Paul. I would join 7 other friends from my local church family that came there earlier on Friday. Between the conference workshops, I visited home and would do some errands with my parents (e.g. grocery shopping and install a garbage disposal). Later in the evening, I joined my brother's family for a "Point of Grace & Selah Concert" at the Hmong Alliance Church (1st time there), which I would see a UMM Alumn there after the concert. The following day (Sunday 19th), I sung with the worship team at my local church, which a young sister in church shared about her experience visiting Heaven!

On Wednesday (22nd), it was "Earth Day", which my workplace took advantage of this day to recycle a bunch of "old" computers and printers at Mobiz Computers. What did you do for "Earth Day"?

On Friday (24th), I brought a couple of friends from my workplace to a rock concert at Alexandria. We first went to Jimmy Johns (probably my last time there with the NOT so great-looking roast beef sandwhich). Then we headed to downtown for the "packed" concert.

I have many other "praise God" stories to share from the rest of this month, but some are "confidential" due to my line of work. Feel free to contact me for a "general" story! Keep the faith all!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Why I chose to live and work in "Greater" ("motown" Morris) Minnesota?

Interview Q&A email with Jenna Ray, e editor/writer in University Relations at the University of Minnesota, Morris:

Cool name Jenna! :) How are you? Yes, this is a very humble invitation that I feel very honored and definitely interested! I get this question a lot since I've graduated back in 99' and still ponder about it. As I was riding my bike this evening to my job, I decided to reply with these answers:

Why do you choose to live and work in greater Minnesota?

Journey on finding my identity (purpose in life) ("One won't know where to go in the future, unless they know where they came from (past)")

I never expected to "stay" in Morris this long. In fact, when I graduated from UMM in 99', I took a summer job to get me through the summer during this "ministry school" my current local church offered. I was then planning on moving to the Twin Cities to do "God's work" or something. Well, as you know, I'm still here :) I somewhat fell in love with my then job (group home with Prairie Community Services)-more of the "people" I work with (both co-workers and "clients" or "consumers"). I got involved with various church "outreach' activities: See You at the Party (annual "new year's eve" event for youth in the west-central and surrounding area), Special Touch Ministries (once a month activity event for developmentally disabled adults in our county and surrounding counties, Good News Radio Show (did this for 2 summers via KUMM), Iglesia Nueva Vida (e.g. inviting friends to just one of many Spanish service opportunities) , etc.. Then a guy from my local church asked me to be part of this community "discussion" (Blandin Foundation group that now started the PRCA -Prairie Renaissance Cultural Alliance or Art gallery in town). From there, it just went from one "community forum or group to another" (e.g. All American City Finalist in 04' (attended a conference in Atlanta, Georgia: to share why I stayed in Morris because I wanted a "better" community after my past racism experience), Blandin Community Leadership 2004, COPC: Community Dialogue on Cultural Diversity (partially sponsored/funded by my employer-PCS to attend a COPC Conference in Baltimore, MD: asked to do a Diversity in the Workplace session to PCS employees afterwards), Stevens County Youth Mentoring (didn't "bear fruit", but would share experience with now then Kinship county-wide mentoring program that's "developing" right now), similar with the Morris Area Elementary School Property Vision; Morris Community Ed: started as a volunteer (offered part-time teaching "paid" position just the past 2 years or so) back in 04' due to my commitment to see "we" as a community can "reach out" to the growing "Spanish-speaking" community via literacy project: ESL, G.E.D.-help young "adults" and others get that high school diploma and continuing ed topic (e.g. computer, skills, driver ed, etc..), Hersehys Track & Field volunteer; Stevens Forward, etc.., etc..

"Pic taken by West Wind Village during Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service (January 19th 2015)

After I wrote the above response, I thought about the college years that was the "backbone" on getting me "prepped" to "stay" in Morris. It all started my freshmen year, when we had to do some "community project". It's been a long time, so I can't really remember the details on how I got involved. However, I remember we went to some neighborhood and helped planted a tree. This is why I bring a digital camera with me everywhere I go now, so I can remember where and when. Anyways, it was some neighborhood (new development in the outskirts of "suburbia" Morris). This was just the beginning of the many community projects I participated (e.g. Campus Compact with "community connector" Carol McCannon of Student Activities-this prior to the current UMM Community Engagement that "awesome" Argie Manolis runs now!) in as a college student. I would then meet many people from the local churches in town that invited me to their "church activities" (e.g. Catholic Campus Ministry, Morris Evangelical Free Church Bible study, Morris Community Church services-potlucks, Hossana Worship Center (a.k.a. Assembly of God-name back then) services that were at the Science Auditorium, etc..). Just meeting people in the "community" outside of campus just built a lot of relationships that was very helpful as a college student away from my "family" back at my "other" home in St. Paul. Then I was involved with MCSA as a rep and the year I joined (97-98'), we went over to the Capitol and lobbied for the Regional Fitness Center. This was probably the biggest community project that I feel very grateful to this day as I'm an avid user and blessed to "stay" to see the "results". There has been challenges, but it's "not" "I", but "we" that works together for a better campus-community.

One of the the "other" reasons for "staying" here are the many benefits compared to where I grew-up ("bigger" city of St. Paul), such as: less traffic, so I can ride my bike (great exercise, save gas, etc..); meeting "all types" of people in our small rural college town community: elderly folks that have taught me lots of "wisdom" in life and love meeting WWII Vets, who has inspired me to re"search" my own parent's WWII past back in the Philippines; my current involvement in the community that has made it harder to "want" to leave with all what's going on. I current rent my bedrooms, which I love meeting and getting to know the "mostly" college-age students (particularly international students). I'm not as "busy" in the past, so I'm doing more of "discovering" and "practicing" my creativity (e.g. drawing, singing at my local church and making music-art videos on various topics that I have a passion for, etc..->sharing it via blog)

How do you think you are making it a more resilient place?

First, I'm not doing it alone! I constantly get-together with folks in the community over a meal (e.g. Don's Cafe), emailing notes (e.g. websites I've made as an archive), and networking via (e.g. photography facebook groups, like "Community Needs" or blogs, like Stevens County (Alberta, Chokio, Donnelly, Hancock, Morris) Community, GoodnewsEverybody Com, Health & Fitness: Benefits of Biking,, etc..)

Cont...stay tune for more!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

March 2015

I continued my "early" Spring-cleaning with the beginning of the month by getting rid more of the "junk" in my house. I was able to find someone (friend on facebook) to take an "old" recliner that I was about to throw away. Thus, I was able to save some money (cost of getting rid of it at the local dump). The next day (Monday, March 2nd 2015), I went to a community fundraiser with my housemate/renter at the local Pizza Ranch, which part of the proceeds went to the local Community Ed (the place where I work-volunteer teaching at).

A "praise report" to share that occurred on Wednesday (March 4th) with the timing of the UPS guy. In fact, this is the 2nd time of such kind that I can remember (1st was when I prayed with a former housemate of mine back in 2004 or so...We missed the UPS guy that was going to deliver a big package, but we weren't home. My former housemate was in need of this package "badly", so we prayed together that we will find the UPS driver. We drove around town and asking "God, is this the right street to turn on..". Well, He answered our prayer!..praise the Lord!). I ordered a bulk of soccer (a.k.a. footballs) balls to donate to a friend (pastor/missionary for "Outfitters for Adventure") that he was going to deliver on a mission trip to Kenya (see Good News Africa) . The email delivery notification said it wouldn't come till the day after my friend was leaving for Kenya. I was a little disappointed and did a quick prayer-"God if it's your will, please have these soccer balls come early". Well, I went upstairs just to check if they came early, and guess what? :)...yes, praise the Lord! :) I quickly drove to my friend's house and made it..actually, they postponed their departure from Morris till the next day. However, I was still thankful as it came earlier than expected. Plus, the soccer balls could've arrived after my friend left??...;)

I did more "spring cleaning" by doing more cleaning of one of my bedrooms upstairs on Thursday (5th) and then went to my last voice lessons (4 of 4) after work...thanks Kurtis! I did some more work in my garage by putting an extra shelf to be used for storage for my unnecessary stuff in my attic. I did more "spring cleaning" (Friday 6th) by putting wood polish on the wood materials upstairs (main floor).

During the 1st weekend of the month, I participated in our monthly "Toast to the Master" (speaking workshop) at my local church. We covered the book of Colossians (e.g. holy living). I was able to also get a workout by running a mile within 9 minutes on the treadmill, which is a sign of progress that my knee is getting better after my unfortunate knee accident (slammed on hard ice at a park) almost a year ago now.

A song I wrote and later uploaded on Monday, March 9th..

During the 2nd week of the month, I was challenged at my 2nd (part-time) job doing the overnight "awake" due to confidential work reasons. I never had to do an "awake' shift since the "early" group home days after college. It was touch, but eating healthy and scheduling when to sleep/nap and eat was critical . Fortunately, I just had to do 2 shifts of this and never had to do it while I worked my full-time day job. Despite the lack of "sleep", I was able to hangout with my renter/housemate (Jin from S. Korea) at Mi Mexico (2nd time to eat at the Morris location)...

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Then I went to a "Men's Life" gathering early Saturday morning after less than an hour nap after "keeping awake" overnight! The next day was the same, which I took less than an hour "power nap" after my "awake" shift (11p-7am) and then went to church for worship practice before church service. I thank God for giving me the "physical strength" to get through this whole "awkward" weekend of less sleep and the change of my sleeping patterns. I would take a long nap Sunday afternoon and took advantage of the nice weather by laying on my patio chair as I listened to my Minnesota Twins on the radio out in my backyard :).

It was St. Patrick's Day on Tuesday (17th), which I wore green like many others even though I'm not Irish ;). I did more spring cleaning (attic) on Thursday (19th). I took a lot of totes to work this week to "recycle" the unnecessary "junk". Spring "officially" began on the 20th, which we already have had some nice spring-like weather prior already.

I went "home" (St. Paul) the 3rd weekend of March to celebrate my be-lated birthday and the annual Philippine Day. My parents treated me for lunch at a Cambodian restaurant (see dish). Then I would go to Philippine Day with my brother and his family. I had to leave after 2 hours because of a winter storm coming. Thankfully (praise God), I left in time before it got worst. However, I had to drive through the middle of it going from Alexandria to Morris. I just drove slow and made it safely!

The last weekend of the month, I went to Moose Lake to visit a friend as part of my every other month visit. We then went to my favorite restaurant in St. Cloud-N.Y. Gyro! Great middle eastern food! The following day, I went to church and saw a "friend" I've been praying for. It was cool to see him. The next day, I benched 185 lbs, which is the most I've done in years, probably since my college days! (join Good News Fitness!)

Monday, March 16, 2015

February 2015

I started the month by going to a friend’s house for a Super Bowl (football ) party. It was good to get together in this national “holiday-like” special occasion. I never watched a full football game this season and this was the closest as I watched the first half only. The game can get too long, so I watched the first half as I wanted to just hangout over "great food" (chips and salsa dip) with friends. I wasn’t interested in watching the half-time performance, so I left and decided to "last minute" workout at the local fitness gym. I would catch glimpses of the half-time show at the fitness center and would leave after a good short 30-minute workout!

The following day (2nd), I had to drive to Alexandria for our quarterly consortium training-meeting with my GED-ESL teaching. It was good to see several folks from the Morris area helping with our program at the meeting.

On Tuesday (3rd), it was that time of the year to donate blood, which is always a great cause. I also feel an need of a new replenishing of my blood in my body, so this is one of the reasons why I love doing this too.

Despite the below zero weather on Wednesday (3rd), we still had several ESL students that came to class at the local elementary school. It was good to see some students we haven’t seen for awhile due to the cold weather.

On Thursday (4th), I had my first meeting with my voice lesson instructor (Kurtis) as we talked about my goals and expectations I want to learn for the next 4 weeks. I’m looking forward to learning new tips as I haven’t had voice lessons for several years or so when I took it with another person (Bethany) in our church, but I did it for only 2 -30 minutes. I plan to do 4 weeks -recommended by Kurtis himself to get more effective. I then would come back to the church building for worship practice as it was my turn this weekend for my once a month worship team cycle.

On Friday (6th), we started our every other Friday fitness class with some clients from my workplace. This is the one of best parts of my job! :) It was more focus on watching the safety of the clients or assistance (e.g. wheelchair clients needed help getting some exercise equipment) during the 30 minute class. It was very fun to watch them participate and have fun!

I would do my "lower body" workout the next day at the local gym after playing basketball as part of my cardio workout too. As part of my singing leisure fun, I did a karaoke song to Backstreet Boy’s “I Want it That Way (Karaoke by Sal on 2.14.15)

On Sunday (8th), I was part of the worship team and one of the songs ("Jon Thurlow Mighty Hand".....Ring in my finger") would stick out to me (usually comes after singing a particular song many times after numerous practice). This comes an ironic time as I was currently working on a wedding video project for a friend/former co-worker. One of the pics was this "ring" on the finger, which is very symbolic of a committed relationship.

I would pray for one of the people I work with at the group home and his back wasn’t feeling good. Well, the next day, he was moving around (sometimes too much and got in trouble) and didn’t have any back problems! Wow…praise the Lord for God’s healing!!

On Tuesday (10th), we had a winter storm , so work was 2 hours late due to the ice and slippery road conditions. I took advantage of the 2-hour late start by cleaning my basement apartment. Later in the day, I went to this "Black Lives Matter" forum at the local college which was a huge turnout. They had to divide into 2 separate groups to be able to better hear everyone’s voices on the latest national issue of Racism and law enforcement (e.g. Ferguson in Missouri and N.Y.C.). I couldn't stay longer as I had to leave for another event going on that same night-Spaghetti Feed Fundraiser for local UMM-IVCF mission trip to Arizona.

On Wednesday (11th), I met with my financial adviser (Allan from Thrivent), which was a good meeting on future finances!

The next day was my first of four voice lessons, which I learned some great exercise tips for my voice. The great comparison Kurtis shared is , as an athlete needs to stretch before his/her competition, they need to "exercise/stretch" to get their muscles ready-similar to our voices !

On Friday the 13th, I would drive the workplace bus to the annual Valentine "theme" dance at Ortonville. It was sunny, but cold and windy-just like it has been almost every year lately. The dance was fun and it was always great to get out of the workplace and our routine. I thank God for getting use to and from the dance venue safety as it was pretty windy (kept moving the bus as driving the flat prairie land does that around these parts of the state).

It was cold on "Valentine’s Day" (Saturday), so I spent indoors at home finishing some errands (house rental stuff) and projects (wedding video). I manage to go to the local fitness center to do my tricep workout.

On Sunday (15th), we had our 1st church potluck in our very new building (opened last summer)...for indoors! We had a potluck like event during the Storm the Planet Conference early September last year, but it was outdoors in the spacious green yard along the side of the church building along California Avenue.

We had President’s Day (Monday the 16th) off for the first time since I started at the DAC, so I took advantage of this day-off by doing taxes. I don’t want to procrastinate like 2 years ago when I finished the day of the deadline..I think I had to apply for an extension since it took longer than I expected. I learned my lesson and try to do it during a winter storm day. It’s too nice to do it when it becomes Spring in April. I would finish filing after days working on it, which I finished late Tuesday/Wednesday morning (2ish). I wanted to finish it so I stayed up late and wasn’t able to attend the weekly Wednesday bible-fellowship group I attend at Neil & Ruth’s.

I went to the cities the 3rd weekend of this month (20th-22nd), which was great weather for driving. On the day I arrived, I hung out with my brother and his kids. My niece gave me her favorite "hair dew" style. The the next day, I took my car to the shop to try to fix this on-going issue with my car stopping (engine shuts off at the stop intersection or just when I’m leaving my garage). I've taken it to the local shop in Morris and they couldn't figure it out. I even had a tune-up many years ago. I finally got it fixed after the folks in St. Paul looked at it. I found the solution after watching several videos on You Tube, which I credit the Holy Spirit (Counselor) giving me this "ah ha" moment! I had another encounter with "Folks with Signs Along the Highway Exit Ramps Part 2" as I was walking to the local auto shop to pick-up my car, but it wasn’t ready at the time. I feel like this area (East St. Paul) is a great place to "reach out". Later on Saturday, I went to visit my nephew and niece to "hang out" with them. I had some great quality time with them as Uncle Sal! :) The next day, I would order pizza (chicken pizza online (Dominoes) for my parents before heading out back to Morris in the 25-35 below zero wind chill advisory. I was prepared as I got my car ready in case I got stranded, but forgot to leave a sleeping bag due to the up and down winter season (warm and cold temp change). Thankful to God that I was able to get home safely! :)

On Monday (23rd), I attended the monthly Community Meal at Faith Lutheran Church, which I always look forward to a great "home cook" nutritious meal and getting to know my “neighbors” in the community. I had a great chat with a lady that I see at the local library all the time and her friend (who is the mother of a guy I know around town too)...small town!

I would eat out again the next day (24th) as I joined a couple of friends from work at Taco John. I lost a “friendly bet” on the Super Bowl, so I had to treat this friend a meal at Taco John. It was a good time to hangout! :)

On Thursday (26th), I attended a small workshop on "prophetic worship, which Cherish from that Storm the Planet conference equipped some worship team members from church and I. It was awesome. I hope to share some songs that God lays in my heart in future blogs as I’ve shared in the past already as God is always doing a “new thang” baby..Halleluah!

On the last day of the month (28th), I attended a ESL student of mine’s wedding at my local church, which was the first wedding of it’s kind at our local “very” newly remodeled church. It was a blessing!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

January 2015

Happy 2015 all! How was 2014 overall for you? Got any goals for the new year? I've asked this question ("Made a new year resolutions?) to many people and the common reply is, "I didn't make one because every time I do one, I never do it". I think many people are afraid to make a "commitment". Are you? I started the new year with day off from my full-time job, but worked the overnight from my part-time job. I didn't mind since it was holiday pay. I took advantage of the time by working on a wedding video I made the previous day. It was too cold outside the first weekend of the year, so I did a lot of indoor "stuff" (e.g. watched MacGyver"). On Sunday (4th), temps got as cold as -39 F (wind chills)!

The next day, I had my evaluation at work and it was good overall. Looking forward to our new Executive Director (Charlie). The cold played a factor to no students on the 7th (Wednesday), which Rollie and I had a great discussion on Philosophy.

On Thursday, I went to see my dermatologist, which I haven't seen for 2+ years as I didn't see any reason. I'm glad I did as he found a growing biopsy mole, which I had it surgically removed right away. I would later get stitches 2 weeks later during MLK! I then went to a co-worker/volunteer from DAC's house to set-up her new flat screen TV. She is a "more mature lady", which she hasn't been much knowledgeable of the new hi technology. I would later go to her house next week as she had some technical troubleshooting issues.

On Saturday (10th), a friend/co-worker invited me to join some friends from his workplace to watch the movie "Hobbit: Battle of the 5 Armies", which inspired and "re" motivated me on the vision of "unity" (Jesus' prayer-> John 17).

I continued my "singing" for the Lord by being inspired this new year to "sing" the "red letters" (words of Jesus) of the Gospel. Here is the 1st of more to come as I plan to do one at a time as time permits..

We had a better turnout of students (ESL & GED) at the local elementary school on the 2nd week (Wednesday 14th) of the year. The weather (20's F) helped a lot compared to last week!

On the 15th (Thursday), it was the first day of fasting as church body for the team we sent out to India. This was the first day I've fasted for a "full-day" in months! I feel bad as I wished I did this more (I've fasted like 3 meals, but not within a day-weekly instead)., which I would end up seeing the "fruits"/good results/blessings (e.g. "breakthrough" that a sister in Christ (Vicki R.) prophecied/encouraged our local church body the following Sunday (18th)! I would hear some "positive" news at the end of the month (27th) at work, which was actually a "break through" (answer to a long prayer). This encouraged me to keep persevering in many of my other long, don't give up!

On Monday (19th)-Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday, I had my 1st MLK holiday off for the first time at my workplace. I didn't want to make this day as a "vacation", but a "day of service" that the local campus is encouraging the folks in Morris community to do. I decided to "volunteer" and participate during this annual event-> MLK Day of Service. It was a great time to serve with UMM college students (many from St. Paul) and the rest of the community.

The following day, I joined other "prayer warriors" as we intercede for the team to India and other community requests. After we prayed, one of my brothers in Christ shared about how he thought I was an angel, which I though was a compliment :)-> story

On Wednesday (21st), the Twin Winter Caravan (thanks Oray for taking these pics) came to the local school in Morris, which was the first time since 2 years ago. Last year was cancelled due to a winter storm (Snow Day), so it was good to see my co-worker bring some friends from our workplace. Later in the afternoon, I met with a couple of friends about starting a auto-mechanic business.

The next day (22nd), I went to a one-act play (Sally Wingert, lead actress in ROSE) that I saw "last minute" in the community "Friday Facts". I thought it would be very interesting and it was!I learned more about the history of Israel becoming a state hood and the personal story of one survivor of the Holocaust. I learned something new too, which was the British mandate somehow postponed the formation of the Jewish state. Jews tried to go to Palestine, but were turned down and sent back according to the play.

I did my once a month visit to the Cities on Friday (23rd) since it was my weekend off from my pt-overnight job. I had a great time spending with family (e.g. shopping with my mom, watching my nephew at swim practice, cheering my niece in her gymnastic competition in Rockford, MN, and celebrating my younger brother's early birthday at Buca's-first time here: Spaghetti Meatball Dish for 2-more like 4! ).

On the 28th (Wednesday), we celebrated the last day of class for one of our students (Coco) from China. She was here for 6 months and will be transferring to Waseca, Minnesota to continue her student-work agriculture program. We had a great party (e.g. Chinese food-> dumplings.

Since I had to work (every other weekend) at my other job the last weekend of the month, I went to Moose Lake for my every other month visit. It was a beautiful day for travel across Minnesota!