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!)