Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Monday, October 30, 2006
I'M GONNA BE AN UNCLE!!!!!! HOW FLIPPIN' AWESOME IS THAT?!?!?!?!?!?! While at the FRWY this evening, I was chillin' behind the bar, fixing a hot chocolate for Louise. Half way through, my phone rings and the caller display says it's my little brother Dennis. I haven't talked with him in a while, but I usually chat with his wife, Liz, so imagine my surprise when it was actually Dennis on the other line!! That in itself should've tipped me off, but I guess I'm pretty slow on the uptake. Anyways, we chat for a while about stuff, and about 10 minutes into the conversation, Dennis says 'So, I wanna ask you a question.' To which I reply in a slightly intrigued and mildly excited manner 'Ok?!' He says:
'Would you like to be an uncle?'
My response? I start screaming and yelling in the cafe, jumping up and down and saying 'NO WAY!!!!! NO WAY!!!!!!' And Dennis happily, but calmly says 'Yea, it's on.' I chat with him for a little bit longer, then get to chat with Liz for a little while and hear her preggers stories and experiences.
All I can say is I'm unbelievably excited that my 'lil bro and sis-in-law are having a baby, and I wanted to make sure each and every one of you who reads this blog to share in my excitement and absolute delight. I wonder what kind of uncle I'll be known as. It seems like each family has a nice unkle, a drunk uncle, a pervert uncle, and all the other stereotypical uncles. I have a feeling I'm gonna be the psycho uncle who teaches all the kids how to light their farts and drive their parents absolutely insane. HA!! Can't wait!!
Hmmm...Uncle Kevin. That has a nice ring to it.
Monday, October 23, 2006
Working at the cafe today was very different from what it's been as of late. Typically, I find myself chillin' on one of the couches, sipping on some tea or coffee, surfing the net or reading a book. It's usually pretty relaxing and chill, but also rather quiet and boring. But today, not only was it the first day of Family Games Night, but the first evening I got to work with two fabulous new baristas, Jill and Laura. First things first, a quick bit about games night, then off to talk about my new partners in crime.
****EDIT**** Apparently, the above paragraph incited some hurt feelings due to my lack of clarity. So much so, I kept hearing about it over and over and over again. Hopefully this note will remedy the situation and have the complaints, whether they were genuine or simply made in jest, to stop because they were really getting on my nerves. What I meant to say was MONDAYS have been rather boring because I've been baristing by myself for most of the night, so it was a nice change to have more people. What I did not mean to insinuate was my boredom for ALL the times I barista. I was just referring to the Mondays where I'd be the only person in the cafe while the cohort was downstairs having their meeting. If I've offended anyone else by my poor writing skills, I apologize.
There were a lot of people tonight chatting, playing games and having a great time. I got to play Pretty Pretty Princess with Sam, which I was very reluctant to do after a demasculinating weekend with Jen and Natasha. (Just kidding...I love them both). All the while, we were serving up some new Monday items of hot dogs and ice cream. Very delisch, but I didn't get a hot dog, but ate something else instead. Overall, it seemed like everyone there had a great time mingling, eating, and gaming it up. If you missed it, c'mon out next Monday and partake in some fun times!! Although it's called 'Family Fun Night', it's open to single people and couples without children as well, so come one, come all!!
Now, onto my reflective rant on the two new Monday Baristas.
I've been really looking forward to working with new people on Mondays, since in the past, I've been "working" with Randy, but in actuality, it's only me because he's downstairs at the cohort meeting. So imagine my excitement overload when I get not one, but TWO new Monday night friends in Laura and Jill!! I think they're both absolutely fabulous people and I'm really looking forward to more Monday nights with them. I remember the first time I met them both, which happened to be on the same day.
I had recently returned from India and was sharing my thoughts about my experience at th FRWY. While I was talking, I distinctly noticed a couple sitting on one of the couches that was against the windows and thinking to myself 'Hmmm...that's a cute looking couple. I would like to meet them.' Afterwards, my interal monologue became a reality and I did get to meet them. They were really fun to talk with, and we got to chat s'more as we all went to Sarah and Dave's place to chat and hang out after church. It was there that I met Laura. She was sitting on the futon next to some dork, who I later find out is Nick, who I later find out is one of the coolest Freeway dudes around. We got to chatting about some of the stuff I talked about earlier, and how the Dalit people in India are experiencing some of the most apalling forms of injustice and dehumanization possible. It was at this moment that I thought to myself 'Wow, this girl is really cool!! She's got some major compassion goin' on inside her!!' Thus completes my first impression reflections on these two ladies.
As for this evening, I had discovered things about both ladies. I discovered that Jill is absolutely hilarious and witty. Her humor can revive the dead and jump start a car. I also discovered that Laura is one who cares so much for people that it makes me want to stop being such a narcissist and start caring for others. Although it's only been our first Monday night working together, I'm already finding myself looking forward to the next Monday where I get to hang out with them. I'm excited to learn more about what makes them tick and hear their thoughts on the different aspects of life.
To wrap up, I highly recommend everyone to meet both these ladies and their significant others, Jordan (Jill's husband), and Nick (Laura's boyfriend). All 4 of them are fascinating and fantastic people, but I must give a fair warning that conversations with any of them may result in the malfunction of the bladder, caused by excessive laughter. I should know...I peed my pants 8 and a half times this evening.
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Detroit Whirlwind Tour
I had a fabulous weekend with Jen and Natasha in Detroit. In between all the food, laughter, shopping, sarcasm and mockery, I got to experience what it's like to travel with 2 women. As a guy who grew up as a middle child with two brothers, the only woman I've ever spent a significan amount of time with is my mother, who by the way, absolutely HATES my long hair.
(I tried explaining the whole concept behind locks of love and how it will be donated to a good cause, but I don't think that really persuaded her. In fact, the first thing my mom and dad say to me when I see them is 'Why is your hair so long?' When my mom saw it, she said 'How are y...' but stopped in mid sentence after seeing my hair, and started shaking her head in disappointment. Oh, what a fabulous son I am. But I digress...back to the Detroit recap)
Because I don't feel like using coherent sentences anymore, here's a chronological recap of what we did in Detroit over a 24 hour period of time.
* Crossed the border.
* Got coffee.
* Went to my parents house to drop off our stuff.
* Had Christmas in October by tearing through all the packages that were there for me.
* Went out to a breakfast place for lunch with my Dad and the ladies.
* Stopped by a nearby shopping mall.
* Went to pick up my mom from work.
* Had Chinese food with my parents, cousins and their 2 girls.
* Sorted out all 42 bottles of soap.
* Woke up.
* Drove around downtown Detroit.
* Ate deep dish pizza in Greektown.
* Stopped by a local Tim Hortons.
* Gagged down the coffee and screamed in disgust as to how bad it is and how different it's not the same as a Canadian double double.
* Stopped by a Target store.
* Drove back to the Hammer.
Well, that's my weekend, albeit without the details, but hopefully they'll suffice. Jen and Natasha: Thanks for coming along and treating me like "one of the girls", although I REALLY like my penis and sideburns. Hope you enjoyed your time in Detroit!!
Friday, October 20, 2006
I went into Toronto today to take care of school stuff as well as meet up with my good friend Al for lunch. After carpooling with Mel B and reading in a parking lot to wait for traffic to die down, I arrive at school. On the list:
Return 2 books
Pay for my health insurance
Get the 411 on my incomplete transcript
The first 2 are relatively self explanatory, so I'll jump to the 3rd item on my agenda. The current student visa I have expires at the end of December, so in order for me to complete my studies, I need to submit an application to extend my visa. One of the piece of information I need to submit is a transcript from my academic institution, which I had requested a week ago. This past Tuesday, I was made aware that I had 4 classes that did not yet have grades submitted, to which the registrar's office has deemed an unacceptable transcript to release. When I arrive at school today, imagine my surprise when I'm informed that I do not have 4 courses without grades, but 8 gradeless courses. To uphold a high standard of integrity, part of this dilemma must rest on my shoulders, for it was not my professors who were such procrastinators to allow 26 assignments to pile up, but something of my own doing. Because of this, I must take partial responsibility. Regardless, I still need a complete transcript to submit to the Canadian government in order for my student visa to be renewed. If this doesn't happen, then I think it will be adios Canada, and hello USA, and no diploma to show for my "hard work".
I'm going to Detroit tomorrow with Natasha and Jen. I'm really looking forward to going home and see my parents and dog, and really glad that these two fine ladies were brave enough to come along. On the agenda:
Actually, I don't have anything specific planned, which is a huge departure from how I usually plan trips. I'm just planning on introducing Jen and Natasha to my home town, my parents, hopefully my cousins, and to the street corner where I sold my first bag of weed.
Just kidding on the weed...
...Or am I?
I'm doing something this Sunday that I've never ever done before in my life, and I'm scared out of my wits. I'm usually pretty good with new situations and experiences, but what I'll be doing is something that will require me to strip away many of the walls and security that I've grown accustomed to hiding behind and letting my flaws and insecurities to be in plain view for all to see. Sometimes authenticity is easier said than done.
I had thawed a tube of ground beef in hopes of making some sort of cow concoction, but had to save my experiment for another day because THE KITCHEN SINK IS GONE!!!!!!!!! My landlord has been on a overhauling kick this past week and installed new cabinets, ripped out the old ones, and took out the old sink and is in the process of installing a new one. Although this is a good thing, I've been without a kitchen sink for a little over a week now, and haven't been able to cook anything except toast and boil hot water for my coffee. Needless to say, my lack of nutritious eats is being reflected in my rock hard poos, and I am not a happy camper.
There's a new Greek restaurant that has opened up right around the corner from me. It's called the Greek House, and I've been hoping to try it out. Well, today was that day, and let me say, it's not what I expected. First off, I didn't even eat anything, because for me to do so, I would need to apply for a loan in order to afford their prices. Most every entree was over $20, and they didn't have my favorite Greek dish: Roasted Lamb. I'm hoping to go to the Detroit Greektown to satisfy my Greek food craving, because it has been thwarted twice this week: Once on Thursday, and again today.
Let me touch on how the search for Greek cuisine on Thursday was foiled. Pernell and I were out picking up a movie, a child called Jake, and a woman called Margie. After the first stop at Blockbuster, I was talking about the aforementioned Greek restaurant I wanted to try, to which Pernell replied with a passionate explanation of how he loves Greek food and how we had to get some now. We tried stopping at the Greek restaurant, but it wasn't open, which only sent our craving for Greek food into hyperdrive. After picking up Jake and Margie, we continue our search for Greek food. We were under the impression that there was a Greek restaurant next to the Williams coffee pub in Westdale, so we drive out there, but soon discover that it no longer exists and has been replaced with some other establishment that something that's not Souvlaki and Gyros. Upon this discovery, Pernell and I begin to curse under our breath, which makes the need for Greek food an even higher priority for the day. We drive around for another 15-20 minutes, but don't find anything. So we drive back to the Greek House and see if it was open, as it was now closer to lunchtime. No dice. (FYI, I learned today that they're not open for lunch. Their hours are 5pm - 10pm) During the second trip back to the Greek House, Pernell says that there's a Greek restaurant on Upper James, but why would we want to drive all the way up there if we could find a Greek restaurant downtown?
(Oh, before I continue, I must add that all the while, Margie had to pee, so every now and then, I heard a voice from the back seat say 'I Need To Pee', and feel a pair of hands reach around the headrest and begin shaking it profusely.)
Anyways, back to the story.
After realizing that we weren't going to get any Greek food downtown, we submit to the cravings and drive up the mountain to find some Greek food on Upper James. Guess what? We didn't find any. By this time, my stomach was grumbling and beginning to eat itself, so we buckled and ended up feasting on cuisine from my motherland: Mexican food.
The moral of the story? I don't know, but what I do know is this: Where's the flippin' Greek restaurants downtown?!?!?!?!
And finally, I have found what I've been looking for. Over the last couple months, I've been hearing this one song being played, but I didn't know the artist or name of the song. The first time I heard it was at Mars Hill, and it was played by the band as the "walk in" music. The second time I heard it was while I was browsing at an American Eagle store in Michigan. For the longest time, I've been keeping an ear to the radio and perusing the iTunes database in search of this song, but no dice, until last night. I found myself checking out American Eagle's website and saw that they had a media player. I thought to myself:
"Hmmm...maybe they've got that song on there."
After about 20 minutes of going from song to song, my ears were tickled by a familiar beat and riff. I listened a bit longer, and with as much excitement as I could muster, I lifted my hands in celebration and bellowed the word 'BOOYAH!!!!' for all the world to hear.
I had found the song. The mystery has been uncovered, and now I can sleep.
What song is it, you ask? It's a song called 'Steady as She Goes' by The Raconteurs. Not only did I learn the name of the band and song, I also learned that the lead singer is none other than Jack White from The White Stripes. I love this song, and in a span of 24 hours, I've already listened to it 20 times.
Can you say 'OCD'?
Thursday, October 19, 2006
The 3 R's
During last week's class, we talked about a guy called John Perkins. During the civil rights movement, his thoughts, voice and actions were very influential in healing wounds and bridging gaps made and left by issues of poverty and racial segregation. During our discussion, we talked about the crux of his theology, which lied in what he called the 3 R's, which stand for:
For the first R, Perkins found himself physically relocating into areas that were impoverished and brimming with issues of racial disharmony and violence. After the move, he began the difficult task of reconciliation between the different races. At the time, it was a predominantly whites vs. blacks issue, to which Perkins found himself speaking a message of grace and healing. Finally, he began taking steps of redistribution where he began moving resources from the haves to the have-not's. In other words, making sure that those who had in excess cared for those who had nothing.
That, in a nutshell, was John Perkins. As I listened and reflected upon the 3 R's, I started to wonder whether I'm doing my part in bringing the 3 R's into the Beasley neighborhood.
Although I've relocated, I'm not really IN Beasley and can't really say that Beasley is MY community, even though I know it is.
Although I've talked to people about the issue of racial harmony, but I haven't found myself actively involved in healing wounds between ethnicities, generations or genders.
Although I've tried to loosen my vice grip I have on 'stuff', I still have more than I need, but feel that I don't have enough.
As I thought more about this, as well as talked this through with Jen on Tuesday at the cafe, I realized that perhaps there's more to do than we can possibly accomplish on our own. The question of 'Am I doing enough?' is perhaps a rhetorical question, because the answer seems like it will always be 'No'. If we do things and feel like we've done enough, all we need to do is peruse the pages of a newspaper and see the hopelessness and evil that too often trumps any good that we try to conjure up. The fact that we cannot do enough has made me realize how much we must rely on God to do in, for and around us what we cannot accomplish on our own in this lifetime.
Though I know that I have a part to play in this earthly symphony, I want to play it as best I can. But for the notes I can't reach, the instruments I can't play, the beats I miss and the mistakes I make, I must constantly remind myself that God is bigger than my shortcomings and finiteness, and loves Beasley more than I know or give Him credit for.
Monday, October 16, 2006
Garlic's - A Review
(This used to be the third paragraph of a run-on post, so I decided to clip it and separate the 3 parts into 3 different blog posts. So here is part 3 of 3.)
The menu reflects the restaurant name. As we glance over the menu that is prominently displayed on the window, we see that many of the items feature different forms of garlic served in many creative ways. As we go in, we are greeted by one of the nicest servers we have ever had the pleasure of meeting. We never got her name, but hopefully the next time we go, we'll get to be seated in her section. Once seated, we get water, and a basket of bread with a side of lemon pecan butter. As we peruse the menu, we dig into the bread, and discover that the lemon pecan butter was very tasty!! What a great way to start a meal. We decided to share an appetizer, so we order something that is similar to a Bruchetta, except instead of diced tomatoes and peppers, we get slices of pillowy soft french bread topped with whole roasted garlic cloves, and an assortment of roasted vegetables and grated cheese. As our entree's, both Miranda and I get a pasta dish. I originally ordered the same thing Miranda did, but being the juvenile that I am, I couldn't order the same thing as her, so I changed it up last minute and got something else. She gets a linguini with a light cream sauce with snap peas, mushrooms, chicken, bacon and of course, garlic. I get a fettuccine with a spicy oil based sauce with spinach, chicken, red peppers, and the all important garlic. What I loved about the dish was that the garlic was whole roasted cloves tossed in with the pasta, instead of being chopped up into tiny little pieces. The earthiness of the roasted garlic really complimented the sauce and the other ingredients. Although I really enjoyed my dish tremendously, I had a taste of Miranda's dish, and realized my plan had backfired because I actually liked hers much more than mine. Oh well, I guess I know what I'm getting next time!! I was planning on calling it quits after the entree, but for curiosity sake, we decide to look at the dessert menu. What I saw took me by surprise. I didn't think they could work garlic into a dessert item, but the menu said otherwise. One of their items was GARLIC ICE CREAM!!!!!!! When I saw this, I said 'That's it, I'm getting one.' As our server comes back and asks if we would like any coffee, tea or ice cream, I interrupt her in mid sentence and say 'Me want garlic ice cream!!' like some crazy barbarian. To add balance to my stupidity, Miranda says in a normal tone 'I'll get a coffee.' When the ice cream and coffee arrive, I take a small spoonful and begin to let the flavors attack my taste buds. At first, the sweetness of the French Vanilla ice cream wash over me, but out of nowhere, the sweet and aromatic goodness of the tiny chunks of garlic emerge, which sends me into this crazy frenzy of flavorful euphoria. I was absolutely stunned that garlic and ice cream could compliment each other, but my doubts were replaced by curiosity. So when our server comes back again, my excitement presents itself as I scream 'HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?!?!?!' To which our server calmly replies 'we caramelize the garlic in sugar. The caramelization of the garlic unlocks its natural sweetness, but the sugar just kicks it up a notch.' What a way to end a fabulous meal!! To round out a phenomenal day, we head back to Miranda's apartment and watch 'Office Space', and play some guitar. Honestly, I could not have asked for a better day than this. Great food, great conversation and great atmosphere, all the while being shared with a great friend. Thanks Miranda for letting me hang out with you and putting up with my bone headed antics. You're so great!!!!!
(This used to be the second paragraph of a run-on post, so I decided to clip it and separate the 3 parts into 3 different blog posts. So here is part 2 of 3.)
The next day, I headed out to London to hang out with Miranda. We had picked this day a couple weeks ago, and I've been looking forward to it for a while now. Let me tell you, London + Miranda = FABULOUS!! One of the first things we do is go out to a little Italian eatery called Angelo's and grab a bite to eat. We each get a cafe latte, and split a mini spinach and feta pizza. What a sweet combo. We then proceed to chat for a couple hours, all the while laughing so hard that people kept staring at us and wondering what kind of asylum we both escaped from. Afterwards, we decide to go catch a movie. We were trying to decide between 'Little Miss Sunshine' or 'The Departed'. After about 30 minutes of indecision, we settle on watching 'The Departed'. We both thought it was a really good movie, and were entertained by both the film as well as the snooty lady sitting in front of us. In the movie, there was some colorful dialogue that both Miranda and I thought were really funny, but others might find offensive. As we were laughing at one of these parts, we happened to either disturb or offend the woman in front of us in such a way that warranted her to turn around and stare at us. When this happened, it only made us laugh even more. When the movie ended, we contemplated catching the next showing of 'Little Miss Sunshine', but decided to heed the rumblings of our stomachs and find a place to have dinner. We drove around for a little bit and sized up the different eating establishments in London. After not seeing anything particularly interesting, we decided to eat at an Italian restaurant. As we were making our way there, we just so happened to see a restaurant called 'Garlics'. Earlier in the day I told Miranda about the hummus Mark and I made, as well as mentioned my love for garlic. When we saw this restaurant, and saw that it looked like a pretty nice place, we decided to scrap the Italian restaurant idea and go to Garlic's. Let me tell you, this was a dining experience of a lifetime!!
...to be continued...
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Living The Dream
This evening, the Detroit Tigers beat the Oakland A's 6-3 off a 3 run homerun by Magglio Ordonez. I was unable to watch the game and see the pandemonium that ensued after a single swing jettisoned the Tigers into its first World Series appearance in 22 years. But what I did do was watch the free gamecast coverage of the game on ESPN.com. When I saw the graphics of a baseball going from homeplate to the edge of the baseball diamond, I knew that it was over. While everyone at the blogger party was talking and chatting, I started screaming and jumped up and down in elation. I shot my hands up in celebration and yelled 'WE'RE GOING TO THE WORLD SERIES!!!!!!!' Fortunately, I wasn't alone. Jaci's brother Gary joined me in celebration as we hugged each other and started jumping around.
I'm so excited that the Tigers have turned everything around in a matter of 2 years. The 2003 season was perhaps the lowest the franchise sank where they were fighting to not set the record for most games lost in a single season. They were able to finish with a 43-119 record, but ever since then, they've been on the rise, and this year, it's the Year of the Tiger. Whether it's the Mets or the Cardinals, Detroit's ready to hand out a slick whoopin' on whoever joins the World Series dance.
Quick Summary: So far, Detroit has claimed the WNBA championship. Hopefully the city will be able to add the World Series Pennant in a few weeks, and the NBA Championship from the Detroit Pistons in a few months. Lofty goals? Perhaps, but either way, it's good to be a Detroiter.
Saturday, October 14, 2006
(This used to be the first paragraph of a run-on post, so I decided to clip it and separate the 3 parts into 3 different blog posts. So here is part 1 of 3.)
After a day in Mississauga, I came back to the Hammer and stopped at the FRWY with Melissa, my carpool buddy. I was getting kinda hungry and started thinking of what I wanted to eat. Mark was at the cafe as well, so we put our heads together to think of something to eat, something different, yet tasty. As we poked our heads into the fridge, we saw this mysterious tub. At first, I thought it was potato salad, but a closer look revealed that it was hummus. Mark and I thought 'Well, this is new! What can we do with this?' As we started thinking, a stroke of genius came to Mark and he began to reveal his fabulous idea. He suggested taking a bagel and slicing it up REALLY thin, toasting it up, and spreading the hummus onto it. It took about a nano second for my brain to process this idea and realize that I was in the presence of a culinary mastermind. Since Mark was the brains, it seemed only fair that I was the brawn, so I began slicing the bagels and handing them to Mark to toast. As they were toasting, we took some hummus and started adding a couple ingredients to it. Although it was already pretty tasty, we felt it wasn't quite strong enough, so we scooped out some of the hummus and added some lemon juice and garlic powder to it. We mixed it up, spread it onto the bagel slices and took a bite. In unison, we both squealed in delight because of how well our Frankenstein hummus tasted with the crunchiness of the bagel slices. Both Mark and I come from the school of thought that there is no such thing as too much garlic. In fact, if we asked whether we needed more garlic, we took that as a sign that it wasn't garlicy enough. We savored our creation to the last bite and had to exercise some serious will power to not eat the rest of the hummus. We decided to share our joy with Randy and let him sample some of it. Unfortunately, he did not enjoy our concoction as much as we did, to which I thought to myself 'well, more for me and Mark!!' As we were relishing our fooding victory, Mark thought it'd be funny if I went up to Randy and started breathing right into his face with my oral garlic stink. I thought it'd be funny as well, so I went up to Randy and whispered into his face 'Hhhhhhhhhhhhhhey, RRRRRHHHHHHHHAndy. Could I take some of this HHHHHHHHHHHHHHummus HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHome with me?' After taking a couple steps back and coughing a few times, he said yes. What a great guy Randy is. He could have responded by punching me in the face, but instead returned my garlic stink with generosity. How many people do you know would do that?
I met with my spiritual director again today. I must say, I've been really enjoying these meetings. At first, I was attending them because it was a requirement for my program, but even though the requirements have been met, I'm glad I've stuck with it because I've been discovering things that I perhaps would not have otherwise. At this spiritual direction meeting, I found myself talking about the issue of excess that I'm struggling with. I've mentioned that I have been reading the book 'The Irresistible Revolution' by Shane Claibourne. I've been reading this book for a few weeks now, and although it's not a difficult read and could have been read in a couple days, I have a hard time getting through very much of it without needing to stop and reflect on what I've just read. Before meeting with my spiritual director, I found myself reading this book over some lunch. I read about the issue Jesus talks about regarding someone who has 2 cloaks to give it to someone who doesn't have any. As I read this, my mind naturally found its way to thinking about my shoes. In previous posts, I've talked about my shoe collection and the plethora of footwear I have lying around my room. As I began to think about the excess I have and those who don't have any, I naturally felt the need to give away my shoes. The troubling thing was I actually began to feel VERY sad about having to give away something that I cared for!! During this thought process, I mentally scanned through my shoe collection and wondered which pair I could do without. As I began to think, my thought process led me to think back to an incident in Detroit during my time of being on staff at my church. I was going with a group of students to a low income housing project in Nashville. We had gone to the same place for 3 consecutive summers, so we had begun to build some fabulous relationships with people in the community. As we were preparing for this trip, I asked one of the coordinators, John, if there was anything we could help with or provide. He said that they were trying to start a computer center for the community, and if we could bring computers, monitors and printers down, that would be a great help. So a call went out to ask the church for donations of computers and other components we could bring down. Over a matter of a couple weeks, the response was tremendous!! We were able to fill a room with all the donations and spent a better part of a week going through what people had brought in. Although we had a lot of stuff, we soon realized that nearly 3/4 of the stuff we got was obsolete and unusable. As I thought about what had been brought in, it seemed like people were amazingly generous, but as we looked at what we got, we realized that much of it was garbage. Please know that I'm not passing judgement on those who gave what they had. I do not see into the hearts of those who donated their stuff, so I'm not criticizing these people. The reason I mention this incident is because it made me think about where my heart is when it comes to the issue of giving. So often, I give what comes naturally and easy, but it seems like I rarely ever find myself needing to sacrifice anything. I may give time to volunteer here or there, but time is something that I seem to have a lot of these days, so it's not a real stretch to give in that way. But as I think about giving away things that I do care about, like my shoes, I'm much more hesitant. During this hesitation, I had to beg the question 'Why?' Why is it so hard for me to sacrifice things? Why have I allowed myself to become so attached to material possessions? Why is it so easy to horde things while people are living lives without the stuff that I have an excess of? I have so many questions, but not many answers, but one thing I think I'm beginning to realize, and that is this: I am very greedy, and I hate this about myself. I want to stop living like a squirrel and trying to gather as much stuff as I can. I want to live more generously and more selflessly. I want to quit storing things and building into my own imaginary kingdom, and start building into the Kingdom by caring more for the needs of others. This has been a really hard realization to arrive at, and I'm afraid of what God's asking me to do. Hopefully my actions will reflect this conviction and not submit to my selfish desires.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
One Of My Heroes
This video reminds me of when I took the mic for the very first time at the FRWY and talked about my trip to India. Aaaahhh...Those were the days. But seriously, this guy is one of the inspirations, behind my dad, for the voice that I do. Enjoy!!
You Got Chenned!!
I could have merged this post with the previous post, but I felt this deserved its own post. Within certain circles at the FRWY, a phrase that was coined by an 8 year old girl finds itself circulating. The phrase is 'You got Chenned!!', and it made its debut at the FRWY picnic a few months ago at Gage park. I don't remember what incited such a phrase and it's original intended use, but currently, it is used when someone gets 'dissed', jokingly mocked, or in cyber-language, gets 'pwned'. Personally, I think it's a kinda funny saying and I can think back to several instances where the use of such phrase made a funny joke even funnier.
But this evening, my friend Chris, who invited me over to share Thanksgiving dinner with him and his preggers wife, Terry, shared something with me I had previously not known. Although my last name 'Chen' is of Chinese heritage, he told me that the word 'Chen' also has a Hebrew meaning. He said that in Hebrew, the word 'Chen', in its noun form, means 'Gracefulness and Beauty'. Because he is not a self professed Hebrew scholar, he encouraged me to double check that and look it up, just in case he was wrong. Well, I did, and Chris was right on. Here's an excerpt from this site.
As I was thinking about this, I started to think about how the phrase 'You Got Chenned' is being used. Although it's being used in a fun and joking manner that is not meant to hurt the feelings of others, it's typically used to punctuate a good joke or dis on someone. I can take a joke on my behalf as good as anyone, and I for sure can dish it out and hang with the best of 'em, but if I could be completely honest, there have been times where the jokes may have been taken too far, and I am as guilty, if not more guilty of this than anyone else. At the same time, there have been times where I just wasn't feeling in a joking around kinda mood, but sometimes the jokes and smack talk still find it's way into conversations. Again, I'm sure I have done this more times than I can remember and am as guilty, if not more guilty of this than anyone else. But what if we did this:
What if we decided to change the way we use the phrase 'You Got Chenned' and have the word 'Chen' reflect the Hebrew meaning?
What if the connotation of the phrase took upon itself a sense of passing grace and beauty onto something or someone else?
What if 'Getting Chenned' meant a kind act of gentle word was heaped onto someone else?
What if people looked forward to hearing the phrase 'You Got Chenned' because it meant we were able to catch a glimpse of God's grace and beauty through being an extension of His grace and beauty?
If this is gonna happen, I know I will need to play my part in this verbal revolution, because I enjoy handing out as large a mouthful of smack talk as the next person. Maybe I don't NECESSARILY need to cut out all the playful jokes all together, but perhaps what I need is to up the amount of grace and beauty I give out to eclipse any hurtful remarks that seem to come so natural to me. Perhaps what I need is for someone to ask me 'Who've you Chenned recently?' and be my reminder that I need to reflect what my name saya and usher grace and beauty into a world that at times seems so devoid of such things.
Thanksgiving Part 2
One of worst things about my schooling experience at Tyndale has also been one of the best things: Relationships. My first semester was by far one of the most unbearable experiences I've ever had to endure in my life. When I hear people say they love the people at Tyndale, I cannot but give them the most confused look on my face, followed by the expression 'WTF?!?!?!' I do this because I cannot say I particularly enjoy the fellowship that is to be had from Tyndale folk. By the same token, one of the best relationships I've had the opportunity of being invited into is with a fellow Tyndale student. His name is Chris, and he's in the same program as I'm in. Every Wednesday, along with our friend Wayne, we carpool into school and get to chat, laugh and catch the random snooze here and there. This evening, I was able to partake in another Thanksgiving meal with Chris and his wife, Terry, along with their future son, who is 7-8 weeks away from bursting into this world. I had a tremendously delightful time eating together, playing games with them, chatting about how I am now a Mexican and how I am not Chinese to someone because my eyes aren't slanty enough, and other things that are happening in our lives. It's kinda funny how things have seemed to turn a 180 in my life, where my initial experience here in Canada was so bad that I was dead set on catching the first train after I get my diploma, to thinking that I wouldn't mind staying here for a bit longer. Although relationships, or perhaps the lack there of, can be so painful and discouraging, they can also bring such life, vitality, and wholeness to one's life. This is another example for me as to why the Trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is so vital a model for community within the Church.
Monday, October 09, 2006
Sports in the D
In light of the spanking my Detroit Tigers gave the the New York Yankees this past weekend, I thought I'd give a shout out to my Detroit sports teams and sing their praises. Let me begin with baseball.
THE DETROIT TIGERS
For as long as I can remember, the Tigers have been pretty bad. The only consistency they've ever had was being consistent in losing game after game. I remember going to my first Tigers game in 1993 with my dad and younger brother. Back then, they were playing in the old Detroit Tigers stadium, which was located in a rather 'ghetto' part of town. Although the stadium has seen better days, it's still a landmark in Detroit and I wonder what the city's gonna do with it. I still remember watching the news when the final game was played in that stadium. Whether it was in print, over the radio, or on TV, people were being told to not try to take 'souvenirs' with them, like a chunk of concrete, a bathroom sign or a stadium seat. (believe you me, if there wasn't an increased amount of police there that day, half of the seats would've been taken home.) If losing was all I could remember of the Tigers, imagine my surprise when the ballclub turns a complete 180 and becomes one of the best teams in the entire major league. Win after win, they kept stomping on everyone. Many analysts say that it is because of the new manager, Jim Leyland, but I think the new pitching lineup had a integral role in this turnaround. From the bottom of the barrel to the top of the hill, I think this turnaround is representative of what other Detroit sports teams have done.
THE DETROIT SHOCK
As the 'little sister' of big brother we know and love as the NBA, the athletes who play in the WNBA never seem to get their props, even though they totally deserve it. In a league of only teams, the Detroit Shock managed to win the WNBA championship again this year. As an avid believe in honesty, I must say that I didn't know that the Shock were even in the playoffs, let alone playing in the WNBA finals. When I was in Detroit a few weeks ago, I turned on the TV and saw that Detroit was playing in the series deciding game 5 of the WNBA finals against the Sacramento Monarchs. Normally, the Shock play in the same arena that the Detroit Pistons play in, the Palace of Auburn Hills. But for this game, they were required to change venues because of a 'conflict in schedule'. Who bumped the Detroit Shock? None other than Mariah Carey and her monstrous badonkadonk. Goes to show you what little respect these women get in the world of sports. Anyways, the Shock go on to win, and in good 'ol Detroit fashion, they start celebrating with bottles of champagne. But whether it was a joke or what, one of the players opens up a bottle of malt liquor, or 'a Fawty' as we say in the D, and pours it on the head of another player. I'm so proud of my Detroit Shock. One of these days, I will go to a WNBA game and cheer on my ladies.
THE DETROIT PISTONS
Like the Tigers, the 'Bad Boys' were terrible. Since moving to Detroit in '93, they've had sub 500 seasons for nearly 10 years. After a series of junky head coaches and poor managerial moves, in comes Joe Dumars and Rick Carlisle, who together, turn things around and start tearing the league a new one. In the first year as head coach, Carlisle takes a team who couldn't buy a winning season to a 50-32 record and a spot in the post season. Under Carlisle and Joe D, the rebirth of the Pistons was taking place in the '02-'03 season. The highly touted 'Best Starting 5' in the league was beginning to form with Rip Hamilton coming from Washington, Chauncey Billups coming from Minnesota, Tayshaun Prince being drafted from Kentucky, and Ben Wallace coming from Orlando a couple seasons before. It wasn't until the '03-'04 season that everything came together with the acquisition of Rasheed Wallace from Portland and a new coach in Larry Brown which resulted in winning the NBA Championship over a dysfunctional LA Lakers team. Ever since that year, the Pistons have been on the top of the league and I can't wait to see how this season unfolds.
THE DETROIT REDWINGS AND THE DETROIT LIONS
Well, I guess I'm not THAT huge of a Detroit sports fan because I don't care much for the Wings, even though Detroit is knicknamed 'Hockeytown', and I don't think very highly of the Lions. This is mostly because I don't follow/enjoy hockey, and I think the management behind the Lions is taking away everything that's supportable about a team that has yet to win its first game this season. If people REALLY want it, I'll give my thoughts on these 2 teams, but until then, I'm gonna keep those thought to myself and lock them away in the mental vault that holds the solution to world peace and identity of who shot JFK. Until then, peace, grace, and much love to all.
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Today was a truly delightful day. I was able to do pretty much everything a weekend should entail: Sleep, eat, read, drink coffee, laugh, play, laugh s'more, eat s'more, and end the day with more sleep. That, in a nutshell, was my day. To expound, here's the long version.
After a restful and undisturbed slumber, I wake up to only find myself wanting to sleep some more. But instead of doing so, I drag myself out of bed and plop onto my computer chair and watch a few episodes of Arrested Development. If you haven't seen this show, I highly recommend it. If you enjoy comedies that feature smart and biting dialogue between some interesting characters, this show's for you. After enjoying some good laughs, I take a shower, brush my teeth, and forget to shave. Once my body was cleaned and adorned with clothing, I hop into my car and drive to the Starbucks on Upper James, where I spend the rest of the afternoon sipping coffee, munching on a slice of Pumpkin loaf, and reading one of the best books I've read in a long time, 'The Irresistable Revolution' by Shane Claibourne. As I was reading this book, I found myself fighting back tears, and I must say I have never read a book that has stirred up such emotion within me. To sum up the book (although to do such thing would not do such a great book justice) it's about caring for the poor, the broken, the hungry, the marginalized, and the outcasts. I highly recommend this book to everyone.
On the heels of reading stuff about people who are starving, I find myself heading off to the Goodyear's for a Thanksgiving dinner. Literally, as I was driving from Starbucks to their house, I was contemplating not going and fasting this meal on behalf of those who have nothing to eat. I was thinking to myself, 'After reading what you read, how can enjoy such a fabulous meal?' Although I did end up going, I found myself feeling very depressed and guilty during the whole entire car ride, and because I've noticed that I have been wearing my emotions on my sleeve lately, I didn't want this to get in the way of others having a good time. So for a good 2 minutes, I was loudly and audibly yelling at myself 'YOU'RE HAPPY!!!! YOU'RE HAPPY!!!!! STOP BEING A LITTLE BITCH!!!!! YOU'RE HAPPY!!!!!!' Hopefully it worked and I didn't ruin the evening for anyone. Before we started eating, Pernell prayed over the meal. I typically don't remember prayers, but something he said is still ringing in my brain: 'We thank you for the food and remember those who do not have any. We thank you for the fellowship and remember those who are lonely.' When I heard this, I was about to cry. That was my prayer. That was where my heart was. On this Thanksgiving weekend, I thank God for all the friends I've made, but think of all those who have been abandoned and are living by themselves. On this Thanksgiving weekend, I thank God for the over abundance of food, but think of all those who can only imagine what a full on Thanksgiving meal could taste like.
While we were literally feasting on a tremendous spread of fantastic food, I realized that although I've been here in Canada for 3 years, this is the first ever Canadian Thanksgiving I've ever been a part of. My first Thanksgiving was spent in Tyndale Res, choking down whatever crap the cafeteria decided to serve that day. My second thanksgiving was spent making my own dinner in Mississauga and wanting to kill the cat that shared my living space. But this Thanksgiving, I spent it with people who I have come to know and love. People who have become so close, I would go as far as calling them my Canadian family, all the while forgetting that I've only known them for just a few months. To Pernell, Margie, Sam, Luke, Jake, Dave, Jen, Natasha and Melissa, thanks so much for letting me spend the evening with you all. For my first ever Thanksgiving meal in Canada, I'm so blessed to have shared it with all of you.
Friday, October 06, 2006
This afternoon, I decided to take a stroll down Barton and check out the neighborhood. I've walked around there before, but never with the mindset to soak in the community. I've learned that there's a lot of character and diversity in this neighborhood. There's a Ukranian church, an Italian bakery, a Polish center, a Chinese herbal store, and a Tim Hortons. I'm really hoping to explore more of this little section of community around Barton and Sherman. Anyone wanna join me?
Thursday, October 05, 2006
This is Who I Am
I followed a link from my buddy Allen's blog to a person on his blogroll. I found this survey and decided to take it. These are the results.
| You scored as John Calvin. Much of what is now called Calvinism had more to do with his followers than Calvin himself, and so you may or may not be committed to TULIP, though God's sovereignty is all important.|
Which theologian are you?
created with QuizFarm.com
Retooling my Focus
Yesteday's class was crap. Even though I was feeling great and had an open mind and positive attitude towards class, it was a trememdous let down. In fact, thus far, the course has been terrible. It's been so bad that even one of the most studious guys in the class is zoning out, which isn't a good sign.
The only redeeming factors of class yesterday was having lunch with a good buddy of mine, Allen, and part 2 of a 3 part "series" on preaching. We talked about the story in Genesis 32 where Jacob wrestles with the angel. The story tells of Jacob interacting with the angel and asks for a blessing. They wrestle all night, and Jacob doesn't let up until he finally gets the blessing he asks for. I've gotten my fair share of sermons on this passage, and the recurring theme is 'if you wrestle long enough, you'll be blessed by God. So persevere, and good things will come to you.' But in our discussion yesterday, we came up with a different conclusion. Although Jacob was wrestling with God and wouldn't let go until he received his blessing, the blessing that was given wasn't for Jacob alone. As we watch this blessing continue through the entire biblical text, we can see how far this blessing reaches and how many people experience this blessing. Although our individualistic society makes us think this is a selfish request, Jacob's wrestling with God for this blessing was for something bigger than ourselves.
As I reflected upon this, it's made me wonder how many times I've "wrestled" with God for selfish requests. I began counting the times I've told myself to be persistent enough so that these prayers would be heard, all the while I've missed the bigger picture. Although my prayers have been rather selfish, I want to put them aside and take on prayers with Kingdom significance. I desire to pray for blessings that will reach further than my limited existence. I yearn to see prayers of freedom to the oppressed come to fruition. I long for prayers of peace to come to the war torn places around the world. I want my prayers to be for love to go to the unloved, hope to go to the hopeless, and release to go to the captives. I pray too for Beasley. I pray that the tiny community we have aptly name the Freeway will be a place of sanctuary, a place of healing, a place of abundant love, and unending compassion and perseverance for the hurting, the orphans, the widows, the addicts, the poor, and the hopeless.
What's your prayer?
On a Roll
I carpooled with Mel B to Mississauga this morning again. After a 5:30am wakeup call, a hotter than hades shower, and an extra large Tim Horton's double double (I hate their coffee by the way...), we head off. Traffic was fabulous this morning, so we get to Melissa's school in about half an hour. I head off to the local library I used to frequent when I was a resident of Missisauga and start work, but not before taking a glorious dump to get the brain juices flowing. After about 3 hours of writing, I had finished 2 papers. I am feeling really good right now and not a moment too soon. This weekend has some tasty festivities in store, and the last thing I needed was to have lame-o assignments looming over my head. I am currently sitting in a Timothy's World Coffee, sipping some Chai tea, listening to tunes on my iPod, surfing the net and chatting with my older brother, Albert, who is leaving for India tomorrow morning to lead a team of 62 people. On this trip, they'll be holding several medical camps, as well as putting on several women's empowerment seminars/gatherings. If you could, please remember to pray for my bro and the rest of the team. 62 people is a lot of people to look after, and if even one of them is a retarded as I am, he's most definitely screwed.
Anyways, in lieu of my accomplishments today, I have decided to take this weekend off and not do any school work. So here's the big question: What should I do with my free time? Any suggestions? Anyone wanna go out and play? Perhaps a round of skee ball, or some cow tipping at Farmer Fran's field?
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
The Joy That Is Margie
Oh how fun it is to be a friend of Margie. We've recently been chatting through google talk, and this is the conversation that we had. Actually, she was writing all this to me while I was away on the phone with my sister in law.
click the image to see a larger picture.
She's such a funny girl!! Oh how I love the joy she brings to my life when she talks "dirty" like that.
It has been such a joy getting to know the whole Goodyear clan. I'm so looking forward to the Meal House Fellowship this Saturday!! Food, fun, friends, and funnel cake!! Well, I'll keep dreaming about the funnel cake, but everything else is gonna be mega baller, yo!!!
When it comes to electronics, people can either buy brand new stuff, or things that are termed 'factory refurbished', meaning it's used, but checked and fixed and re-sold at a lower price, but has the same level of quality found in a brand new item. I'm not new, but I'm feeling very refurbished. I was finally able to sleep last night, and after a good night's sleep, I feel fabulous!! It's 3:15pm, and I'm roaring with energy. I don't know if it's the coffee talking, but it's been a while since I've felt this energized. These last couple days I've been feeling really sluggish, even though I've been able to sleep, so this is a really good change of pace. Yahtzee!!
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
My friend Gideon sent this link to me earlier today. Seriously, Asians can be some of the sickest people alive.
Monday, October 02, 2006
Here's the digital segment we showed last night on Human Trafficking. Feel free to download it and spread it around. (To download, right click the link and choose 'save as',) The more awareness we spread, the more hope we can bring to ending this sooner, rather than later, or not at all.
Human Trafficking on Vimeo
Sunday, October 01, 2006
Yesterday...and the day before
On Friday, I was to look after the Goodyear kids from when Pernell and Margie left, till the real sitter arrived. Who is this real sitter, you ask? None other than Meliss Burleigh. If you've never seen her in action while chillin' with childrens, I must offer up my recommendations to do so. Seeing her interact with kids is like watching a surgeon slice open a patient: Exciting, inspiring, and a hell of a lot of fun to watch. Seriously, she's good at it, much better than I. At around 1pm, a buddy of mine, Allen, stops by cuz he happened to be in town that day. We chill, chat, and have some sweet laughs. It was really great seeing him again. I don't get to see him all that often, but whenever I do, it's always such a treat. After he leaves, it's just me and the 3 kids. During the 3 hour time period between the love birds leaving and when Nanny McPhee arrived, I manage to get all 3 kids crying, a couple cuddles, and a cannonball in the face. Anyone wanna top that for the worst sitter award? Yea, didn't think so. Fortunately, my testicles are still in tact, so that's a plus. After Melissa arrives, I decide to stick around and get some work done while she's hanging with the kids. I don't know what it is, but the kids seem to be so much more chill around her than I. I think it's because she gives them "special brownies". Dinner times rolls around, and we tear into the roast Margie made for us before she left. Two words: Holy Crap!! It was a roast put into a slow cooker with potatoes, carrots, onions and seasoning. The meat was moist and tender, the vegetables were soft and succulent, and the broth left over was so sweet and flavorful it could've doubled as a desert wine.
Then on Saturday, it was packed full of interesting encounters and full on wicked excitement. The day began with a good night's sleep, which, by the way, has been recaptured and used to its fullest extent the last 3 days. Booyah for good sleep!! At around 2pm, I mosey on over to the Tiger Cat's stadium to help Jo Jo with a canned food drive. That was pretty interesting on several levels. First, yesterday was my first time EVER wearing paraphernalia of any kind having a denominational logo on it. While standing around next to the donation bin, I found myself sporting a black hooded jacket with the Salvation Army shield on the left chest, as well as one on the back the size of Texas. I've never had that much responsibility before to not sully the name of an organization who's put their trust in a punk kid like me to wear their goods. Fortunately, I didn't do anything illegal. Well, I don't THINK I did anything illegal. Anyways, it was cool standing around next to a bin and having someone from time to time look in and wonder if it was a trash can.
Afterwards, I go home for a quick shower and head over to the cafe to barista for Ungamana. Although it was a slow start, it quickly picked up and turned into a crazy party. I really had no idea what to expect, but what unfolded was simply one of the best nights of baristaing I've ever had the pleasure of being part of. Not only were Erin, Kaelyn and I constantly on the move, but we had some great people and great music to keep us going. As a fundraiser, this evening was by far one of the funnest (is that a word? Well, it is now.) ways to do it. The headlining group, whose name escapes me, was fronted by a dude who killed every single instrument he played, whether it was drums, bass, guitar, voice, and mouth. Yes, mouth!! This dude started laying down some sick ass beats with what I assume was his teeth and tongue. I have never seen anything like it before in my life!! That takes the phrase 'party in your mouth' to a whole other level. To top it all off, Adrian sat in on drums with the band and played with 'em the whole entire night!! I knew this dude had mad skills on the drums, but for him to play as phenominally as he did on the fly without any practice, was seriously mind numbingly impressive. Good on ya, Adrian!! Also, mad props go out to Kaelyn for organizing this event. It's been absolutely fabulous getting to know her and being able to work with her last night.
To Kaelyn: You did an absolutely AMAZING job last night!! Everything was such a HUGE sucess, and you pulled everything off fabulously and what seemed like effortless work. Congratulations on a spectacular evening!! What a way to end things with a bang!!
I had a whole lot of fun hanging out with some really great people these last couple days, and I'm looking forward to doing s'more of that tonight at the FRWY.