He Is (at 32:45)

Old notes taken mostly from my personal time with God. We're moving house again, so, I guess we're back to being, literally, pilgrims on the Rough Roads of Planet Earth. (Photo taken on a road to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, North Auckland, NZ, Dec 2009.)

Friday, November 18, 2011

YAI -The Long Trek

Dated Nov. 17, 2011

Finally, my special needs child is under the health insurance that allows her
to avail of specialist services under one roof, YAI - from the Paediatrician and
Psychiatrist to the Dentist and Podiatrist.
It has been a long, arduous trek finding ourselves to this place in our

When we first came to New York we had to shop for household items and our
friends would drive us to the home goods / furniture shops. On one of those
drives going to Long Island I noticed a building with a very big sign just a
little distance from our own neighborhood – YAI. Its logo is unusual perhaps, and
it's huge; probably that's how it got my attention. Of course, that time, I
didn't know what that building was and what it would mean to us.

However, when she started attending school, we were
advised by the staff at her school to get a case manager for her, to help us
get the government support available for special needs children like her. We
were also told that YAI is the best known organization to seek help from. And
so, soon after, we made our first visit to the nearest YAI branch, and it
happened to be the one right there in our neighborhood, that same big building
with that stand-out logo – YAI. A number
of evaluations had to be done on my daughter to establish her disability, and so,
more visits ensued in the months that followed.
We soon became more familiar with this organization.

As new immigrants in this country, and with my husband and I
being unemployed, our first concern was to get into the health insurance system
here, as health care here in the US is very expensive. We are kind of "lucky",
I would say blessed, that just months
before we came here, Pres. Obama instituted reforms in the health care
system here, making health insurance affordable to everyone (in March 2010).
Although until now voters and legislators alike continue to challenge and question
these health care reforms, I would unabashedly say that we new immigrants are
among the immediate beneficiaries of these reforms. For one thing, before we
could enroll our high and middle-schooling kids, we needed to get a TB-immunity
certification for them and a physical exam, as well (the ones we obtained
abroad, though recent they were, didn't count). So, to get a physician to see
them, we needed to get health insurance so we wouldn't have to pay a fortune for
those services. And so, that's what we
did. After that, the next step was to get a primary health care provider (i.e.
General Practice Doctor) for each one of us in the family. But because our special-needs daughter
has so many medical issues requiring immediate attention, I ended up bringing
her to see so many specialists / doctors in different hospitals and clinics,
each time making sure those professionals and institutions were under the
coverage of the health insurance we chose.

That was fine, for a
while, until we needed to bring her to the dentist. Our daughter never had trouble
having to see a dentist, but apparently, being a teenager now, fairly
strong and already having a mind of her own, she has started showing
resistance, or I'd say, un-cooperation when at the dentist's clinic. The dentist
happened to have worked for YAI before and once again, we were referred to YAI,
this time for her dental treatment. He explained to us that YAI's Premier
Health Care Center doesn't just provide health services, they also are equipped
with total support for the medical treatment of special needs people. i.e.,
they have people who can restrain special-needs patients down, when they
over-react under medical treatment. Of course, we wanted that for our daughter but we
also found out that for her to avail of the Premier Health Care services, she
has to be under a different health insurance company. And so, we had to dis-enroll
her from our family's health insurance company and enroll her with the one that
covers YAI's Premier Health Care. That sounds simple enough simply because I can no longer recall every detail as to how many professionals we had to talk with / make phone calls to, or places we had to make trips to, not to mention the awful circumstances my daughter and I had to go through, before we finally arrived at this stage. So by and large, that's the story of
how we finally got into YAI. Sure enough, YAI has become more like
a neighbor's home for us now, at the rate that we frequent that place. And
thank God, it's just nearby.

Friday, November 4, 2011


Now the story can be told.
Getting my older daughter to a university program at CCNY is a long story of struggles in itself.  For one thing, when you are only 16, enjoying high school and friends and a first boyfriend (!) whom you planned with to go to the same college with, thinking of moving to a new country and applying to go to college there is just totally unthinkable! That was how it was like with my older daughter. So imagine her reluctance and disinterest in taking the SAT in Auckland two years prior to our move here, just for the minutest probability that she might get to study here in the US. For one thing, my husband, her dad, wanted her to just try and see if her scores would be high enough for her to apply for a scholarship in any of the universities here. She was having her own term exams, or something, on the same week her SAT was scheduled somewhere in the central business district of Auckland. I remember driving her there, parking in some tight place and making sure she got into the right building. I remember seeing many young Asians like her, in the same building, waiting for the lift and also about to take the exams.  I remember thinking, “Who would want to take exams to study ‘abroad’ when you are already abroad?” Unsurprisingly, it’s the Asians.  It seems not too long ago but I do remember clearly that my daughter’s mind was half-way somewhere else when she took those exams. She didn’t even study for them as she was busy studying for school exams that week.

So when her exam results came later, it was just, ho-hum, average. Obviously not high enough for anyone to drum about, much less apply for a scholarship. But my daughter wasn’t bothered. She didn’t want in the least to be compared to her scholar older brother, nor did she want to follow his path. She knows what she can and cannot do and she’s not going to stress herself out to live beyond that, just to please other people, and I fully supported her in that decision.

Just months after that, suddenly, we received the news that we had become eligible for immigration to the US, and we could move here as soon as we completed all the paper works.  I wasn’t too keen to go anywhere as we had just settled to life in Auckland and my younger kids shared my feelings. But with our eldest child graduating in 19 months and him turning 21 in 17 months, we realized if we moved fast enough, we could get the green cards in time, so he could stay in the US after graduation and find work here. If we got the cards after he had turned 21, he would actually lose the chance.  And so, pressed for time, we worked towards that goal. On the other hand, just in case something falls through in the paper works, and we couldn’t move in time for our daughter to enter college (she was on her final year of high school), she would have to attend a university in NZ. So, that would mean while we were processing our immigration papers, she would be applying for university placements in both the US and NZ, so no matter what the outcome of our immigration application would be, her studies would not be disrupted. And so, that’s what she did. We narrowed down on New York City, so, she applied to several branches of the CUNY (City University of New York), CCNY (City College, New York) being one of them.  However, all the while, with all these applications for school and moving going on, my daughter’s heart was set on just one school – Otago University in Dunedin, NZ. Her dad made her apply to Auckland University as well, just for back-up, and she did, but her heart and mind were on Otago. She in fact got confirmation of her admission there and she was being pressed for a place in the dorm.  But her dad refused to pay for a deposit to insure her dorm placement because of the possibility that we would move to the US, and the money would be forfeited.  She was very upset about that.  She had looked forward to dorm life in an exotic university in the South Island of NZ.

And so, when we got our immigration confirmation, my daughter was disappointed she had to drop all notions of Otago and dorm life, but happy that at least then she could focus on just one thing, not several possibilities.  ~.~  I felt relieved for her, too. Phew! What made it sweeter was that CUNY soon confirmed her admission to several of their branches, including CCNY in Harlem, my daughter’s first choice. And so, suddenly, she had to set her mind on CCNY and moving to New York with all of us. We were planning to move out of NZ around early Feb. or late Jan. so we could spend a month of holiday in Malaysia and let the cold months pass in the US before we move here in March. But we got a notification from CCNY saying our daughter could start college in the Spring term, which is early Jan., rather than wait for the next Fall term in Sept.  And so, it was decided that we would push the moving to late Dec. so we could be there for the opening in Jan. And so we had to rush the packing and disposal of our belongings and did away with the family holiday to Malaysia. Instead, only my daughter and younger son went for a two-week holiday right at the end of their classes in late Nov. to early Dec. Meanwhile, I was left alone with our youngest Joche to pack or sell / give away our things until the rest of our family came back in mid-December. That proved to be a downside in our moving process, we being pressed for time on the last days before flying off. But we did get off, albeit in extreme rush, and got here  in the US in time to spend the new year with my sister and her family in New Jersey!
CCNY in Winter, Jan. 2011.

And then, the bitter side of the story began.

To this day we still don’t totally grasp how the CCNY administration system goes. For one thing, my daughter never received an admission letter from CCNY, supposed to have been mailed to our address in NZ.  But to ensure that her slot is not given away to another student on the waiting list we were required to pay a non-refundable deposit of $100. So, my husband requested my sister to do that for us and she did. The trouble is, we never got a letter from CCNY that they received the amount, nor did my sister. All she could prove was that the amount was debited from her bank account, hence, the cheque she sent was cashed. But all the while my daughter was confident she got admitted; only because it was reflected in the CCNY web page account she opened, as part of the admission process. Finally, we made the first trip to CCNY and got to talk with the admin people in person on the first business day of the year 2011. And that was the time we got the confirmation that she was really admitted and had not lost her place for the Spring Term 2011. She was also made to take some Math and English tests required of all Freshmen students.  Some days later, based on the results of her exams,  she was notified that her admission is conditional, depending on whether she was willing to take one Math course which she failed, re-take the exam for that course and pass the exam. She didn’t have to pay any fees but the course would take one full term. That meant she would have to wait for the next Fall Term to start college! That was disappointing for my daughter, after we rushed moving here just so she could be here in time for the Spring Term.  But then looking back, the Liberal Arts programs she had considered pursuing in Otago or Auckland Univ. didn’t require that much Math units in high school, that’s why she didn’t take that particular Math course which she failed. Apparently, the Arts programs here in CCNY, and probably in the US in general, require more Math preparation units than the Arts programs in NZ. I had always felt that she wasn’t taking enough Math (and Science) courses in Massey High in NZ but she said that it was not really necessary if she is going into an Arts program in college. Unfortunately, that is only true for NZ. And so, my daughter did go to CCNY in Spring Term but only in preparation for admission to her college program there. She found it frustrating thinking that she could be very well into college already if she went to Otago or Auckland Univ.  And even more frustrating that most of her friends in NZ had already started with their college programs, and so did her friends in Malaysia. Around that time though there was a big earthquake in Canterbury (Christchurch) which killed almost 200 people (Feb. 22, 2011)and so I comforted her with the thought that we would have been very worried for her if she was in Dunedin (Otago Univ.) when that happened. Also, fortunately for her, she enjoyed the course, the teacher was really good according to her, she learned a lot of things and became more interested in Math, and she made a good friend - another Asian girl in her class. Also, fortunately for her, she passed the exam and got, finally, officially admitted into the International Studies program of CCNY this Fall Term (Sept. 2011). Sadly though, her friend didn’t make it and was considering to enroll in another college in Brooklyn but because of the commute the friend asked CCNY to give her another chance to pass the course and now she’s doing the course again. That means she and my daughter still get to see each other and hopefully, will eventually finish college from the same school.
A beautiful old building, also part of the campus.

And so you would think that’s the end of the struggle. Well, no. When we got her officially enrolled in August, CCNY’s computer system had discontinued the account she had opened in Jan. using the SS no. she got when we arrived here a immigrants. Instead, it seems the system was showing her old account which she opened when she was still an International Student entrant applying from Auckland! Apparently, because there was a time lag from the time she made the account as an immigrant student to the time of her actual admission, for having failed, re-taken and passed the exam,  she got a double-account mix-up. And when they tried rectifying that she ended up not being able to access the account anymore! We had to go to her school two times to settle the mix-up because the clerks at the admissions office wouldn’t  believe her that she couldn’t access her account, because they could access it! And because she couldn’t access her account she couldn’t see the status of her admission, the schedule of her orientation dates and whatever requirements she still needed to comply with. It was so strange!The Admin Building.I remember, on the second visit, I stopped my daughter at the entrance of the Admin building so we could pray on one of the benches under the trees, before walking in to explain the whole situation. What we found frustrating was that they rely so much on the computer that they started looking at us like we were impostors trying to claim somebody else’s admission!!!  And so they had to double-check, ask for her date-of-birth and other details, etc., just to make sure she’s the same person and finally just gave her another password so she could access the account. It didn't help that she was using her English name when applying from Auckland and now using her Chinese name as an immigrant here (all because of some clerical mistake done by the US Immigration office)! :( To this day we still have not received any kind of paper communication from this school, everything is through the computer account. They probably save a lot of money on paper, ink and admin work by doing this but I personally feel uncomfortable about this total reliance on the computer for their administrative works. Oh well, anyway, finally, my daughter is in college and this “paper struggle” has become so typical of our new immigrant life here in the US! Our way of life here is fraught with struggles and much as I don't want to face it, it is spiritual warfare out here - so little gets done without prayer! ~.~

Part of the Spring landscape in the campus.

An Email to my Son

Dated 19th Sept 2011

Washington, DC skyline, Sept. 2007.

Lately, I wrote my son an email and I have totally forgotten about it until I got his reply yesterday. I wrote it even weeks before his last visit to us here, but we probably didn't even have time to talk that much to be able to talk about that email. In fact, I think he spent most of his meals with friends outside rather than with us when he was here? He has become so busy since his college days that sometimes my husband gets frustrated that he doesn't reply to emails. Actually, he does, but he takes time. I just want to blog this particular email I sent him because I think it is important and would be meaningful, at least to me, later on in life. Of course, the other reason I want to blog this email is because he replied positively to it. Well, actually, this is not really the whole email, just an excerpt of it:

(Dated Aug. 14, 2011)

I hope and pray you are enjoying your job and life in DC in general.

Keep your room / house clean and learn to make home-cooked healthy

meals. Take care of your health. Keeping your house clean is also good

exercise and it keeps the dust, mites and cockroaches away, making

your immediate environment healthy as well. You can never run away

from the basic skills of cooking, laundry and keeping house clean for

the rest of your life, and you will make a better person and also a

better father and husband later on in life by acquiring these basic

skills soonest. Being a good person yourself is the first step in

having a happy family life and you have very little time left to

prepare for that. Just some practical advice from your mom.

I also hope you give yourself and ____ more time to really know each

other, and to mature, before you decide on settling down. I still hope

you would wait until you are over 25 years old. Marriage is a

life-time thing, don't take it lightly. It takes at least two years in

a relationship to really get to know a person, and you also need time

to let yourself mature. When I was your age I wished I had older

people to advice me or at least talk with, concerning these things.

But I didn't. My own parents were too far away and didn't really care

to give me practical advice. I don't want you to be in the same

situation. As I have told you in the past, marriage can be a life-time

of bliss or a life-time of misery. It's either way. And God has very

strong words regarding marriage: "I hate divorce." So, don't take it

lightly. Marriage is mostly loving expressed in hard work. So, if you

are not willing to work hard, and I mean, physical hard work, it will

be very difficult to make it work. And God's command is first to the

husband: "Husbands, love your wives." And then second only to the

wife: "Wives, submit to your husbands." The initiative comes from the

husband. You have to love your wife first, then she submits, and the

more you love her, the more she submits. And the more she submits the

more you will love her. But if there is no initiation of gestures of

love, the marriage comes to a stand still and breaks down. You have to

keep that in mind. As head of the family, just as Christ is head of

the church, you have to love first and the love cycle starts and keeps

going. That's why the Bible says, "We love because He first loved us."

We can't love others without having experienced the love of God. And

just as Jesus laid down his life for the church, the husband is

supposed to lay down his life for his wife. It's a tall order. So, you

would want to make sure the woman you will lay your life down for is

really worth it. Pray for God to guide you, that you would marry the

right partner. "Laying down your life" doesn't necessarily mean

physical death, but rather, sacrificing in myriad ways for your wife,

and later on, your children. Being married and having a family, as I

said, is mostly loving, expressed in hard work. So, think before you

leap, and more importantly, prepare before you leap. Make sure you can

take the hard work part of it, too, not just the bliss. That's why I

encourage you to practice the basic life skills while you are still

single so that it's second to your nature already when you enter into

marriage. That makes the adjustment period - which makes or breaks a

marriage - so much easier.

You wonder why I'm writing you these things. Well, this could be a tad

too late but still, not as late as one or two years from now. Life is

not just about career and hobbies. Eventually, everyone has to get

real and face the crunch of marriage and family. Make use of what

little time you have left to prepare for that. Don't take the

essentials for granted. They should be second-nature to you by now,

just like brushing teeth. :)

love, mom

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

On the 9/11 10th Anniversary Commemorative Service at Church (Part 2 of 2)

Dated 19 Sept. 2011

A photo of the Statue of Liberty I took on my visit here in Sept - Oct 2007.

What was once a distant horrific event that we only saw on TV 10 years ago had become real to us even when we just came here 8 months ago. Our New Yorker friends told us people had to walk home from work that day because all the trains and buses stopped operations, and all bridges were closed, just in case there were other planned bombings. Our friend's husband who works in Manhattan borrowed a bike from the gym of his office and rode two hours to get home. Most people had to go on foot. For many days they would burst into tears whenever they watched the news reports every day as the city dealt with the aftermath.

As I walked home from church that day I remember pondering why am I here? Exactly four years ago I came here to send my son to his university and my sister and her family drove me to Virginia for a visit. On the way there we dropped by Wash., DC and I saw the place for the first time. It wasn't just the "touristy" places that impressed me. We passed by some residential suburbs and I saw the most beautiful and impeccably-landscaped townhouses I have ever seen. I thought, this must be the most beautiful man-made place on earth and the cost of living here must be among the highest in the world. Of course, I was right, especially about the latter. I remember thinking, "Wow! It must feel like a dream living here!"

When I went back to Malaysia I told my family about Wash., DC. I said I would love to live in a place like that, just to feel what it's like, even for just a few months or even days. But it must be the most dangerous place to live in, with the Pentagon and the White House sitting right there. When I was there we actually drove by the Pentagon and my brother-in-law showed us the part that had a gaping hole from the bomb that was dropped there. It was only "fortunate" that that part of the building was not really occupied that time and thus, nobody was hurt.

One year later, when my son came back to Malaysia for his Summer break, I told him the same thing, that DC is so beautiful, but I wouldn't want to live there, even if I could, in the light of 9/11. After 9/11 the world has changed.

In Feb. this year, my son was short-listed for 2 jobs, one with a consulting firm in Manhattan, NY and the other, a job with a bank head-quartered in Wash., DC area (Arlington, VA). We were hoping he would get the one in Manhattan so he would be near us, even if he decides to get a place of his own right there, rather than stay with us here in Bayside. But the consulting firm was taking too long in making their decision about hiring him whereas Capital One Bank offered him at once a business analyst position, and they gave him a deadline to decide. Thus, he took the latter offer and now he's living in Wash., DC. And now, I am wondering, in the light of 9/11, why are we spread in these two most dangerous places - Wash., DC and New York City?

When we moved to NZ three years ago, my family in the Philippines were saying we'll have a relaxed life and we'll be far from the political turmoil, NZ being so far and isolated from the rest of the world. I called it "the edge of the world," and "the last stop to the South Pole." So, I said, "Yeah, while the rest of the world bomb each other, we will be sitting in front of our TVs watching, together with the seals and the penguins." And I actually felt good about that, although I reminded my brothers that NZ actually sent peace-keeping troops to the Gulf War. In the event that a similar thing happens again and NZ would draft men into military service, my own sons may not be exempted.

Auckland CBD as seen from the top of Mt. Eden, Oct 2008.

But now, I am truly pondering, "How did we end up here in the most dangerous cities of the world, when I had actually expressed the fear of living in these places before?" Of course, the obvious answer would be to think that probably, God didn't mean us to be by-standers and spectators in the sidelines. He probably really meant us to be where the action is!?  Exactly 3 years ago we were packing and getting ready to leave K. Lumpur for Auckland. Months prior to that my friends had doubts whether it was God's will for us to move to NZ. But I assured them that I had prayed about it and God clearly showed me it was meant for us. I would have a "refreshing" in NZ. And I did. NZ was "paradise" compared to this, and looking back now, we were really meant to come here, too, eventually, although of course, at that time, we didn't know it. If we had known, I'm sure we wouldn't have made that move to NZ. But God really meant to give me that respite in NZ, at least from my younger daughter's homeschooling, albeit it was very brief, before bringing us to this cauldron.

So now, you ask me, is God really with us? Sometimes I wonder, too. After all, this is not really the best of economic times for America, and as my high school friend who also just moved here puts it, "America is no longer the land of milk and honey that people once thought it was." Of course, I agree. But I believe that God brought us here for a purpose. (Jer. 29:11). I will never be sure whether we are in the center of His will but He continues to take care and provide for us.

Last month, when Hurricane Irene was here, my sis and her family in NJ had a few hours of power interruption, and so did our friends who live, just 15 minutes away from us. Our cousins in Lincoln Park, NJ even had it worse. Their house got flooded and they had to evacuate for a few days. My other cousins in Lafayette, NJ also had flooding in their basement. Just a few blocks away from us here, some people also had power interruption. As for us, God heard my prayer when I told Him, "Lord, I have a full house. My sis-in-law and her family are here. We can't take any more inconveniences like water or power line cut offs on top of this over-crowding." (My younger daughter, i.e., special needs child went hyperactive in those 4 days they were with us and we had to take her to a doctor and my in-laws had to move to a hotel!) Thus, I believe, we were miraculously spared by God. And I continue to believe that because He brought us here He will continue to care for us. I continue to put my hope on our truly merciful, faithful and loving God.

On the 9/11 10th Anniversary Commemorative Service at Church (Part 1)

Dated 19 Sept. 2011

The cover of the service program for that morning of the tenth anniversary of 9/11, Sept 11, 2011. (Shocks, I just realized, that's double eleventh hour!) I didn't notice the American flag at the bottom until I took this photo this morning.

I have not attended Sunday morning service for quite a while. If I bring my younger daughter, who's a special needs child, along she can't stop talking repeatedly, nor can she stop pulling my hair, so, people around us end up distracted by us. If I leave her at home, almost always, nobody is awake yet to child-mind her. But that was a special Sunday and I was blessed that my younger son was already awake, so, I left her with him. He knows that nowadays, in order for us to go to church, we have to take turns going to church / caring for her.
There was a general feeling of disappointment among New Yorkers for Mayor Bloomberg leaving out the religious leaders from the official commemoration of the 10th anniversary of 9/11 at Ground Zero. The pastor mentioned it in his sermon and for him this was a sign that America is falling into that false sense of security, just because there had been no similar attacks in the last 10 years. (Later on, I found out that Pres. Barak and First Lady Michelle Obama and ex-Pres. George and ex-First Lady Laura Bush came to Ground Zero for the early morning observance and Pres. Obama read Psalm 46. I believe that the reason they left out the clergy this time was to prevent any controversy arising from the different religious groups. Hence, I am glad that still, the text the President chose to read for the occasion is from the Bible.)
The pastor, a soft-spoken medium-sized guy, preached a simple and succinct message on that mournful Sunday. Titled, "America, Beware!", his message warns Americans that what happened on 9/11 ten years ago was not an accident; it was a deliberate act of war. Muslim extremists attacked America because of their hatred for Americans and their way of life, as well as their close ties with Israel. America remains to be a defender of Israel because we believe God's word saying, "I will bless those who bless you." That is, God will bless those who bless the nation of Israel to whom He was speaking when He said that. When I heard that, I became genuinely glad that we have chosen to make the move from the church in front of our house, to this church, which is also in our neighborhood, but a bit further. I guess, the pastor's candid and humorous statement best describes the "statement of faith" of this church: "The Bible is never PC – politically correct – instead, it is always BC – biblically correct." He elaborated on his commemorative message by preaching on Ephesians 6:11-13.
11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
He reminded us that we are in a spiritual war, a religious war. He went on to remind everyone of the heroic act of the passengers of Flight 93, which landed in the rural fields of Pennsylvania, averting a potential attack on the Capitol. Ten years ago, on 9/11, New Yorkers came face to face with evil. They experienced the horror and devastation of loved ones suddenly going missing, the city paralyzed by terror and panic, transportation coming to a total stand-still, the whole metropolitan going on "emergency" mode. Suddenly, heroism and patriotism came to an all-time high, there was a unity making people come together in prayer due to the acute awareness of the existence of God and His importance in their lives, a coming together to give support and comfort to one another, forgetting whatever earthly differences they may have had. But despite all that, soon after, people started forgetting the lessons learned and put political power of utmost importance again. By not welcoming the clergy to the 10th Remembrance of 9/11 he said, we are dismissing our main source of security – God. (Psalm 121:1) He emphasized that an attack similar to 9/11 can happen again and that we have to remain strong and vigilant. He called upon us to come to repentance and mourning, that we should humble ourselves and seek the Lord for help. He quoted Joel 2:11-15, Psalm 51:17 and 2 Chronicles 7:14.
After the preaching and prayer, members of the church came up to the front and read aloud from Isaiah 40, Psalm 62, Psalm 24 and Psalm 91. There was also a corporate reading of Psalm 23. A widow of one of the members of the church who died on 9/11 read an essay titled, " If I Knew It Was the Last Time…" Another member read another essay titled, "On Monday,... On Tuesday...". 9/11 happened on a Tuesday and the essay was enumerating details on how New Yorkers' lives and attitudes changed in just one day between those momentous Monday and Tuesday. A slide show titled "9.11.07 Never Forget, Never Surrender" was also shown with the instrumental version of "Be Still My Soul" as soft background music. The service was so solemn and meaningful. There were no dry eyes at the end of it. It was also the first Sunday service I attended in that church and it was a most memorable one. (The first services we attended there were on Wednesday nights.)

Where Was God on 9/11? by Anne Graham Lotz

Dated 11 Sept 2011
"Have you ever thought, "Where was God on 9/11 when the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were attacked?" Well, I know where my God was on the morning of September 11, 2001, and He was very busy!
He was discouraging people from taking those four flights. Together they could accommodate more than 1,000 passengers, yet there were only 266 aboard. He was on those four flights giving the terrified passengers the ability to stay calm. And on one of the flights, God gave strength to the passengers to overcome the hijackers.
God was also busy creating obstacles to prevent people who worked in the WTC from getting to work on time. The work day had begun, more than 50,000 people worked in the two towers, yet only 20,000 were at their desks. On that beautiful morning, God created scores of unexpected traffic delays, subway delays, and commuter train delays. A PATH train packed with commuters was stopped at a signal just short of the WTC and was able to return to Jersey City. And far more meetings were scheduled elsewhere than was usual.
God held up each of the two mighty towers for a half hour so that the people on the lower floors could get out. And when He finally let go, He caused the towers to fall inward rather than to topple over, which would have killed so many more people. The foundations of six surrounding buildings were demolished by the fall of the towers, but God held them up for many hours until all the occupants were safely evacuated.
And when the WTC and Pentagon buildings went down, my God picked up almost 3,500 of His children and carried them to their home for all eternity. He also sat down and cried that 19 of His children could have so much hate in their hearts, that they did not choose him, but another god that doesn't exist, and now they are lost forever.
He sent people trained in dealing with earthly disasters to save those that were injured. And he sent in thousands of others to help in any way they were needed. And He brought people together across the world in a way that moved thousands to tears and hundreds of thousands to prayer - and caused millions to turn to the one true living God.
He still isn't finished. Every day He comforts those who lost loved ones. He is encouraging others to reach out to those who don't know Him or believe in Him. He is giving the leaders of our great nation the strength and conviction to do the right thing, to follow His will, not a popular poll.
So if anyone ever asks, "Where was your God on 9/11?" you can say, "He was everywhere! And, in fact, He is everywhere today and every day. " Without a doubt, this was the worst catastrophe most of us have ever seen. I can't imagine getting through such a difficult time without God at my side. Without God, life would be hopeless."
From a leaflet that came with today's Sunday worship program at our church here in Queens, New York, in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

The DC Earthquake and Hurricane Irene

Dated 25 August 2011

I had been feeling sick for a week but didn't feel too badly, until that day, Tues., Aug 23. I thought I better go to the doctor because I couldn't stand another day / night being sick. So, I took the bus and went to our doctor. There was a long queue as usual, an assortment of old and young people, some babies and some middle-aged ones like me. I felt the chair I was sitting on being gently rocked but there was a toddler holding on to the chair next to mine, so, I thought he was rocking the chair. But a middle-aged guy standing next to a bookshelf, talking quite loudly on his cellphone, suddenly looked up and said, "Oh, earthquake!" So, I said, "Yeah, it's an earthquake." He was standing a few feet away from us, so, I thought if he felt the shaking, then it couldn't have been the baby; it was an earthquake! The same guy walked to the window at the end of the room and said, "I thought it was just because of the construction going on downstairs," examining the construction site just outside. We were on the second floor (meaning, third floor, if you count the ground floor as first floor). I think the building had up to 6 floors and that moment, I was thinking, "Why did I happen to be in this multi-story building when this earthquake occurred?" At the same time, I was thinking, good that it's just a small one, or we would all be rushing to get out of the building and the hallways are very narrow. This was congested Queens, New York. I can't remember the last time I felt an earthquake. Probably in Japan? There was an earthquake or two when we lived in Malaysia but I didn't feel them because we were too far from the epicenter or we were on the ground floor. The vocal guy said, "Facebook time," and went on to check his FB in his cellphone. He said, "Hmmm, Washington DC." I thought, "The epicenter is in DC?" I texted my older daughter  who was at home to ask if they felt the earthquake at around 5 min. before 2pm. I texted the same message to my niece in Jersey and to my older son  in DC. My niece texted back saying it was a little shaking but my son said he was in Richmond, VA for a one-week training and they have evacuated the office. Almost an hour later he texted again saying they have gone back in. When I got home my older daughter said she didn't read my txt message but she did feel it. The rest of my family didn't feel it at all because they were either napping or sitting in front of the computer. So, we didn't think too much of that little earthquake although it was a 5.8 magnitude in Virginia.
Then last night, Wednesday, when I was reading my younger daughter her bedtime story my older daughter was looking at her Tumblr and exclaimed, "Mommy, a hurricane is coming to hit us!" He explained that it's headed for Miami and North Carolina but will eventually reach us in New York. And then I said, "That sounds bad, a hurricane in New York?" And she said it's predicted to be big, probably not as big as Katrina, but big. And when I think of Katrina I think "chastisement" (on New Orleans). So, I said, "Could that be because of Wall Street?" And she said, "Why?" "Don't you know? In the past few weeks the stock market crashed and people are saying the people behind Wall Street are the ones who made the money from that crash." Then she looked at her computer again and said, "Mommy, somebody did comment saying, 'I hope it goes straight to Wall Street!'" And I said, "Earthquake in DC and now hurricane in Manhattan? This doesn't sound good. Reminds me of 9/11." (The Pentagon was hit in DC when the World Trade Center was bombed in 9/11.) My daughter knows that I have always dreamed of going back to DC again, because I really do think it's the most beautiful man-made city I have ever seen, and had hoped I could live there, even just for a short while. I was there in 2007 when my sis and her family brought me there for a visit after we sent my older son to Dartmouth to start his college education. But at the same time I had expressed that it's probably the most dangerous place to live in in the whole world because of the Pentagon and the White House sitting there. And then now, my older son is actually working there (!) and most likely, I would see DC again, this time with my whole family, the Lord willing.
Then this morning I found in my email the news that I had been thinking of looking up since the earthquake occurred. I am subscribed to Christian Breaking News and one of the news they posted is on the earthquake and the impending arrival of Hurricane Irene in New York this Sunday (Aug 28). I read the news from the link they recommended and I found the details more alarming than just the" gentle swaying" we experienced here in New York. The vid associated with the news also says that the epicenter was in Mineral, VA, 40 miles northwest of Richmond where my older son was when it happened. The dismal side of the news is that:
1) "The East Coast gets earthquakes, but usually smaller ones and is less prepared than California or Alaska for shaking." That means the buildings here in the East Coast are not built to withstand big earthquakes, unlike in California and Alaska.
2) There were two nuclear plants in VA that were taken offline for a while after that earthquake, and there is also a nuclear plant here in New York (Indian Point). The reason Japan had radioactive leakage from their nuclear plants in the earthquake of 11th March there is because those nuclear plants were built to withstand only earthquakes up to 5 or 6 or 7 magnitude, not an 8.9 ! Because this area has no history of big earthquakes, I doubt if these nuclear plants are built to withstand them either.
3) A few months before the "killer quake" of Christchurch, NZ on 22nd Feb this year, they also had a big-mag. quake (in Sept 2010) but it didn't kill anyone and it was considered a miracle by the NZ Prime Minister, considering that it's a highly populated area. However, both "killer quake" and it's "prelude" in Christchurch were later deemed to have come from an unknown fault - meaning, there was no history of big jolts coming from that particular fault line.
Well, these thoughts are far from happy ones, but I always try to see the worst scenarios that can happen, and then I pray that they would never happen. I really think we cannot be complacent with the "small earthquake" we felt here in New York the other day. So, there. I pray that you my friends out there would pray for us here in the North American east coast. Now I also understand why I had been sick lately. I lost my appetite and because of the diarrhea I was really forced to fast, or at least, partially-fast. Then right after the earthquake I felt better again. And this is not the first time this has happened to me.
Today it was rainy-cloudy the whole day, a sudden contrast to the bright and cool-breezy weather we had in the past week. We went out shopping for food and the lady at the till was commenting that she hadn't had any break since they opened at 7 this morning. People have also been shopping for food in preparation for this hurricane weekend! And tomorrow, Friday, it could be worse. As for me, my older daughter  attends her first day of classes for the Fall Term tomorrow and my sis-in-law and her family (3 of them) are arriving from Malaysia. They are on holiday here, but they'll probably be staying a while longer with us before they can't go anywhere, with this hurricane coming this weekend!

Happiness and Joy

Dated 31 July 2011


Whatever is going on in your.... (brain); 89...(0); chicken ten... (ders); see Imo...(gen); Pass by Lincoln... (Heights); Barney's Great Adven...(ture); "Parade of Num...(bers)"; And so pull your hair now!; Sky... (High); I have fun making pooh...(pooh) - some of my conversations with my younger daughter. Of course, my replies are the ones in parentheses. :)))))

Yup, it's Sunday evening and it's the weekend after my 50th birthday. Do I feel old? No, I'm young at heart. hahahaaa!!! But yes, I am old and getting even older each day. It's kind of cool being old, really. :) For one thing, you don't have to worry about looking old because you just look your age. bwahaaa!! The day before my b-day my children and I attended Wednesday evening church and that felt good because I never could bring my teens to church with me on Sunday mornings because they can't wake up in time. Well, my younger daughter made her usual noise of : "What time is it over?" (Yeah, constantly asking what time the church would be over and we had to keep shhhh, shhhh-ing her.) But we made it to church!

Then on my birthday I had to rush getting her fed and washed so I could be on time for my driving lesson. I was praying I wouldn't make the same mistakes in my previous lesson (on the Monday when we just got back from our Poconos trip and I didn't have enough sleep!). I wanted it to go well badly because I wouldn't want it to go down in history that I had a slight skirmish on the road on my 50th b-day!! Thank the Lord, I didn't. The lesson went well. My teacher said I am now allowed, based on his assessment, to drive without him (but by law it is required I drive with someone who has a license and we don't have a car yet for me to practice on, anyway). I'm really glad I am able to keep on the right side of the road now (not the left) and when my instructor says turn left (or right), I actually turn on my signal lights instead of the wind-shield wiper!!! bwahaaaa.... It was confusing and daunting the first time I went on the road here because of that disorientation.

And then I had this great urge to shop and cook but am glad I resisted that. And we didn't have to go out for dinner either out of compulsion, just because there was an occasion. If my husband were around we usually do that and we end up in the Chinese restaurant and my children and I are quite sick of Chinese food. Phew, I'm glad that didn't happen on my 50th b-day!!!! (Probably God's gift for me on my special day. LOL!!!!) And so, I had all the time to go online and reply to all my birthday greetings. I don't know exactly how many but it's safe to say it's close to a hundred. And I do reply individually, because they greeted me individually. If they took time to greet me personally I have to take time to reply to them personally.

I also thanked them all for "celebrating" my b-day with me by posting the link below. Many did appreciate that because it brought a lot of memories back for them. They say it's a great oldie, and so do I. For people my age this song would definitely bring back lots of memories. I was only in primary school when it was a hit in my country, so, for me, it brings memories of early morning rides on the "jeep" (public transpo) to school, in my school uniform, passing by the vast rice fields, with the wind in my face... while the "jeep's" sound system blares this song out loud. :) Cool. Precious and few were the moments I spent with my friends and family - who are now so far away from me - at one time or another in the past 50 years. So, I dedicated this song to them.

Then I cleaned the house on Friday and on Friday night my older daughter and I couldn't find a good tv show to watch and it was raining outside! Thank God for the rain, because I didn't have to water the plants and it was a cool night. And then I realized just how isolated I am from friends, I didn't even have anyone to talk with! Phew!

That brought to mind one of my favourite verses: "I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, ..." Phil. 1:3 I am thankful for all my true friends, indeed,... but that night I really wished I could talk with them as they are all so far away from me.  And I guess I would say, "You know, my life can be sooo miserable but whenever you talk with me I feel like everything's alright again and I get this peace that I can't find with anyone else...." (Strange, I know. But I think only God could have given me that kind of friend.)


I have been negotiating with God and I have asked Him, "Dad,
can I have happiness too, besides joy?" Seems a simple thing to ask but I
probably am asking to have my cake and eat it, too.

Since the time I became a Christian at age 22 I had noticed
that in the Bible there is no account of Jesus laughing / chuckling/ smiling.
There are accounts of him getting angry, frustrated, sad, even weeping. I get
the feeling that Jesus was a very sober and serious person. Well, when you have
the project "Dethrone Satan and Save Humanity" set before you, and you're surrounded with a bunch of helpers who don't have a clue about what's going on, nor understand the gravity of the outcome, you won't
really have the heart to banter, would you??

I struggle over the word "joy". Like in this verse: "...make Yahweh your
only joy and he will give you what your heart desires." (Psalm 37:4 The Jerusalem Bible)

Or this verse:
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face
trials of many kinds, because you know
that the testing of your faith produces perseverance." (James 1:2,3, NIV)

It's as if God is concerned only with us having joy, not happiness. Well, happiness is something bubbly, short-lived and it usually comes easy (no price to pay). The trouble with happiness is, it hardly stays
around. It evaporates the moment the conditions that brought it have changed.
And then sadness takes over. And then you can have happiness again only because
you know what sadness is like. Happiness is always coupled with sadness, for we
can't appreciate one without the other.

Joy is something deep and steady. As believers we know what
that is :The inner peace that comes with being in the will of God. It's not
ebullient, it's not a high or a low, it just is. It can actually be boring. I
think that's the reason we want happiness (at least for me) over joy. It's
exciting! And I believe happiness comes from God, too, and it's a good thing.
But just because it's a good thing doesn't mean we can have it, all the time,
or the way we want it. Actually, sometimes I think God purposely withholds
certain kinds of happiness from us simply because He has other plans for us.
God has taught me to think, "This kind of happiness may not be meant for me;
other kinds may be, but not this one." Or another way of looking at it is that God desires for us the excellence of joy rather than the mediocrity of happiness.

Ever wondered why people have to suffer? Why do parents have
to suffer watching a wayward kid continuing in his deviant ways, or why do children
get abused, or a loved one falls sick, suffers in pain, or a friend goes
through an abusive relationship, brokenness and divorce, and sometimes there's
really nothing much you can do to help them but pray? But when I think of Jesus, I kind of
understand. Now my 50th b-day is over and God seems to have answered
my question: "Why joy, Dad, why not happiness?" Jesus was hardly understood by
His friends, He prayed by Himself, and at the worst times of His life, was betrayed, abandoned and denied by His friends. He was helped by Simon of Cyrene, for a
while, to carry His cross, but on the whole, He actually went to Calvary alone. The angels watched in awe and silence, His friends and mother watched from a distance, even His Dad watched in silence in
Heaven, probably even thinking like David did when he cried at Absalom's death:
"If only I had died instead of you—O Absalom, my son, my son!" (2 Sam. 18:33) But Jesus had to go through it alone. Probably, that's what Jesus meant when He said: "Take up your cross and come
follow me." He meant it, literally. And you and I have to follow, alone.

Sometimes I wonder why I go through life alone. But when I
think of Jesus, … He was alone and it was His pure joy. Sometimes, we really have
to leave people alone, so God can have the free hand to perfect His will in
their lives. Man, it's no fun because I know what that means. The road to joy
is a lonely one and most of the time happiness has no place in it. It's so
difficult to set our gaze on the things above rather than the things below - it
is so lonely. And the reason God wants us to desire joy above happiness is just
that: He wants us to be focused on the things above. I tend to think that if
God makes everything happy and perfect for me here on Earth, I wouldn't look
forward to going to Heaven anymore. But our citizenship is in Heaven; He's
training us to set our minds on the things above. The road less traveled
always ends up to be the right one, after all. And the reason God can't give us both happiness and joy is because at times, happiness is opposed to the joy God has intended for us. And I think I heard Him say: "Don't make an idol out of happiness." Yesssss, that's what it is!

 ...Hmmm, as if I really got that figured out. Yeah, maybe one day, it will become crystal clear. As of now, I am content with this shadow... of things yet to come.

God bless you, my dear friends. :-)

Four Dollars-Thirty

Dated 24 June 2011

Two weeks ago I was on an errand to bring my younger daughter's urine
sample in a hospital's collection center nearest our home. It was just a bus-ride away and was done
rather quickly. Then I realized I had time – some time for myself – if I took
the opportunity. It was still early, just a little past 8am, just a few minutes
after my daughter was picked up from home by her school bus. Then I remembered
the coffee shop my older daughter and I went to the last time we were in that
area - Panera Bread! "Oh, I have plenty of bread and green tea at home," I
thought. But then, this is time and space away from "home!" Yay! Actually, away from "work" for me! And so, I went in and looked. Their bagels looked good! I always go for the multi-grain or wholemeal one, so, that's what I did. And the cashier showed me where to get the tea and hot water. So, that settled that – tea and bagel with vegetable-cream-cheese spread for me. And it's four dollars thirty cents. Hmmm,
I chose not to convert to Ringgit or Pesos, or I'd end up gagging on my food. :-P And so I took it at
face value – four dollars- thirty. Actually, $4.28.

But, really, what did four dollars-thirty buy me?
It bought me time and space where I could sit down unnoticed.
I could reflect and enjoy the hot drink as I watched people and cars pass by through the glass walls.
I could see old folks walk in and out of the shop, in their faded jeans and tees.
I even saw middle-aged blokes in shorts, hunched over laptop and paperwork.
And I got to hear a group of oldies chatter, as they huddled in a corner, munching away their breakfast and teas.

For four dollars-thirty I got a warm, crunchy and hearty bagel with cream cheese and piping-hot Earl Grey, albeit in a paper cup. :-D
But after a few bites I knew it wasn't the food that made it a good deal for me:
It was four dollars-thirty for idling mind and limb and forgotten chores and cares at home.
T'was rest for an hour and a minute, rest for a really muddled mind and soul.
Nobody was chasing me out of that shop, nobody was ringing me on the phone – I left
it at home!
Nobody was pulling my hair, no one nudging me, "Hey, it's time!" - nobody giving me the grunt or the look just because I was idling away.
For an hour and a minute I was unnoticed, un-missed, unwanted, unnecessary, un-demanded, unneeded - missed by the radar, out-of-sight-out-of-mind; phew!!

Panera Bread - it does wonders at 8:30am! Yes, it was, pretty much, very much, money
well-spent away from home. Four dollars-thirty! >.<

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Mt. Pocono, Pennsylvania

We were invited by my older sister to join her and her family to spend a week at a mountain resort in East Stroudsburg, PA. So, last week (17-23 July), that's what we did. We took the bus, subway and then the train (NJ Transit)to get to my sis' place in New Jersey and of course she had to pick us up from the nearest train station. We were carrying clothes for one week, well not exactly, since the resort we were staying in would have washing/ drying facilities, but we still had to carry quite a bit of things. I really wished we could just drive to NJ instead. Anyhow, we made it in one piece and it was really a good week to have left New York because there was a heat wave here that week. Of course, we didn't plan it that way because this booking wasn't arranged by us. We took lots of photos but I will post only the significant ones.

The welcome center of the resort where we checked in.

The lodge we stayed in; it was a townhouse. In Malaysia they would call this a semi-detached house. We stayed in the unit on the right and we had the added bonus of having a barbecue stand next to it.

Some photos of the interior of the house:

The living room.

The dining room.

The bedrooms.

The main attaction of the area was Bushkill Falls.

They had four trails you could choose from to explore the whole place.

For many Americans though, the area has a far greater big attraction - the shopping! Apparently, the Outlets shop there offer really good bargains.

So that's where we went to after we trekked on the Falls trail.

My younger daughter and I passed the time by playing with the camera and the mirrors inside the shops while we waited for my sis and her friends to finish shopping.

My daughter and I enjoyed the walks we had in the forest resort in the evenings although we had to watch out for mosquitoes.

A crab apple tree.

A swing hanging on a big tree on the yard of a private property we discovered on the main road behind the unit we stayed in.

An apple tree next to one of the neighboring units.

Wild flowers.

From a distance at first I thought they were calves. I was wondering why there were cows in the resort. Then as we came closer we realized it was a doe with her two fawns. I took many shots of them but this is the closest one and it's like "now or never" - I had to click the camera or they would run away the next moment. And that is just what happened.

The same fawns.

The barbecue on one night was one of the highlights of our stay.

The other highlight would be the bonfire where the children roasted marshmallows. This was interesting to us because open fire burning is illegal in Malaysia and NZ so we never had this there.

The children also went swimming in the resort pool but it seemed the water wasn't clean so they did it only once. The older girls went to the water park instead but I stayed back with my younger daughter so I don't have photos. So, that's our summer trip to the Poconos! :)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Graduation Weekend at Dartmouth

Last weekend (10-13 June 2011) we went to Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire to attend our older son's graduation. It’s been four years since I accompanied him there as a Freshman, to help him get set up in his school dorm. I remember it as a very beautiful and green place, near the top of a mountain. My son was very excited with his new school. 

I also remember thinking that would be my "trip of a life-time" in the US. I never thought I would be able to come back here, more so with my family and in time for his graduation at that. Truly, God has done for us far more than our wildest dreams, just like what the Bible says.

We had hoped that I could get my New York driver’s license before his graduation so we can drive to Hanover but it didn’t materialize. I have been swamped with caring for our special needs child and getting her settled in her new school. She had been having urinary incontinence problems since we moved here and so far, we have seen four doctors for that alone. We have been busy breaking into the health care system here, namely getting enrolled in a health insurance plan. There is so much paper work involved every step of the way and the whole American  health care and education system is like a maze, it’s not easy to find where to begin. The first step is of course getting a Social Security Number. Oh, well, anyway, I might write about that topic too later, but for now, I’ll get on about our trip to Dartmouth. :)

Technically, Dartmouth is a university but due to tradition, it has opted to keep its name as Dartmouth College. Rain or shine the graduation was to be held at the Dartmouth Green.  Since we couldn’t drive without a driver’s license, we traveled by bus. We were able to book places in the Dartmouth Coach for the trip going there but stalled in making the booking for the trip back because our son didn’t get back in time with us about his own travel plans. So, we had to take the public buses coming back. The Dartmouth Coach has its New York terminal right in front of the Yale Club located opposite the Grand Central Plaza along Park Ave. (I observe that Dartmouth has a special relationship with this other Ivy Leave university – Yale.) We took the bus and subway to get there.

The coach is like an airplane sans the flight attendants.:)It has a loo at the back, a galley where we can help ourselves to snacks and drinks (all inclusive in the fare), a choice of sitting around a working table if one wishes to work during the trip and it has free wifi. It also has lots of leg room and every seat has a  retractable tray in front for eating, reading / writing, etc.
The coach left at 1pm and arrived in Dartmouth at a few minutes past 7pm. We had only one stop along the way so, roughly, it takes 6 hours from New York to Dartmouth. It is probably the most convenient way to go as it goes straight to Dartmouth and it’s very comfortable. On our trip back we took the coach  to Boston, stopping by to pick up passengers in Lebanon, a small city 10 min. from Dartmouth. Then from Boston we took the Bolt bus to Manhattan, New York and from Manhattan we took taxis as we were carrying some of our son’s belongings from the university. Otherwise, we could still take the subway and bus too, as they continue to run even late at night.

When we got to Dartmouth the school president’s reception for graduates and their families was in full swing. We knew we would arrive too late for it so we passed on that one. There was enough sunlight for a few shots so I took advantage of it, knowing that the weather forecast for that weekend was for rain. (And I really didn’t have the chance to take much photos of the campus after that evening, except indoors.)

This is the dorm where we stayed. Dartmouth opened the student dorms to accommodate the families of graduating students attending the graduation. There’s only one hotel in the campus, the historic Hanover Inn. It’s expensive and was reserved only for the alumni coming for the occasion and for the VIPs.

The name of the dorm is Richardson Hall.

We had dinner at a western restaurant named Molly’s inside the campus. A plaque on the wall said, “If it weren’t for the last minute, nothing would get done.” – haha! That is so true of cramming college students, and still typical of people like me though I have left school like a life-time ago. LOL! I was too embarrassed to photograph it though, because the resto was full of people and I would have to disturb some diners to take a photo of it.

Photo taken along the main street of Dartmouth where Molly's is located, while we were waiting to be seated at the restaurant.

This one is the decor-style inside Molly's - authentic and historic. Another plaque read, "If you came with a reservation, you are in the wrong place."

It was supposed to be a hot summer weekend and we were advised to be ready with fans and hats, as well as flat shoes for the uneven ground in the Dartmouth Green where the graduation was to be held. But it turned out to be a rainy weekend and many people were unprepared. The umbrellas and plastic ponchos sold like hotcakes in the Dartmouth Co-op the next day, Saturday.

It was really rainy and we got lost in the campus looking for the venue for our son’s Class Day function. Our younger daughter got tired of walking and we were getting wet, so, we went back to our dorm. Then  my husband went out on his own, too, found the place, albeit late, and was able to attend it with our graduating son. I read the speaker’s speech for that occasion later in Dartmouth’s website and I think it has a lot of practical wisdom not only for our son and young people in general, but for me and my generation as well! You can read it here.
Of course, that weekend, the advice for the graduation ceremonies attire changed to raincoats, hats and umbrellas.

That's how bad the weather was that weekend.

In the evening the rain let off at least for a while and we had dinner in an Indian restaurant that night, our son’s favourite on campus. He said the food they serve is very much like the food at the Mamak coffee shops he goes to in Malaysia. Meaning, it’s the closest to Malaysian food he can find on campus. We didn’t have reservations, so the only place they had available for us was at the veranda. If we could risk getting rained on, they didn’t mind serving us dinner there. So, that’s what we did but they had to wipe all the tables and chairs dry and open up the parasols so we wouldn’t get drenched in case it rained again.

We forgot to order shots for our son to be taken by the official photographers at the graduation ceremony, so, we had hoped that we could get seats close enough to the stage. The graduation was starting at 9:30 am on that Sunday morning (12th June) and we were there at 8:50. There were still many empty seats but people have “reserved” them by placing pieces of plastic, paper, bags, etc. They had informed us earlier that “reserving” seats would be prohibited during the graduation ceremonies, that people would be seated on a first-come-first-served basis, but surprise, surprise! Dartmouth is no different from the rest of the world – people still “reserved” seats for their family / friends. It was good we could still grab some chairs on a stack on a side of the Green because the people who came later than us had no chairs even to sit on. :) So, gone was our chance to take a photo of our son on stage. We would probably be able to get a glimpse of him on the big screen, that’s all.

There were 9 conferees of honorary degrees in that commencement exercises and former president George W. Bush Sr. was one of them. He came in a wheelchair. Another one was Conan O’Brien, host of a late-night cable tv show.  He also gave the commencement address and it was very humorous. You may read it here.

All I could get of George W. Bush Sr. was a shot from the giant screen.The building at the back is the Webster Hall named after the prominent Dartmouth alumnus, Daniel Webster, a statesman and also of the Dictionary fame.

This is the only photo I got of my son in the few seconds that he was on stage. He’s the guy coming down the middle of the stairs.

The following are some family photos.

There was a reception after the graduation in one of the school cafeterias (free food) and so we had lunch there. Our son and my husband finished packing up his things after lunch and we left Dartmouth at 5pm. We arrived home half-past midnight.


Smile! God loves you and me. ^____^

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The Many Versions of Love Stories 1. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, kiss and marry. They live happily ever after. 2. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, kiss and marry. The marriage sours, they part, and live happily ever after. 3. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, kiss and marry. Then boy finds out it's more fun to be girl... or girl finds out it's more fun to be boy, they part, change sexes and live happily ever after. 4.Finally, boy or girl meets God. It's love at first sight... The roads went rough, the tides rose high, the strong winds blew and the quake shook the ground... but they truly live happily ever after, forever and ever. 5. Try God's love... it's always happy forever after, and the story never ends. :-D