Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I'm Not Dead...

just tired.

Work and

a visit from the brother and

endless errands and

laziness, of course.

I'll be back later.


Saturday, April 23, 2011


Now I know what it means
to have a heart overflowing
to be so full of joy
that you want to scream it to the world,
collapsing with a raw-throat and a smile
because the joy doesn't die with your voice

It's seeing friends
who grow in faith like a lush, green vine
who cry after God with longing eyes and shivering hearts
who cling to the truth like it's their only plank in an empty sea
to see boys become men and men become servants.

But the most beautiful thing
that brings tears to my often dry eyes
is a soul so alive in God's love
that they daily delight in
pouring themselves out like a drink
a glad sacrifice
that those in the dark may see
the Father of Lights
that those sick of eating ash may find
the Bread of Life
that those whose hearts are ice may feel
the Consuming Fire.

The singer was right that all we need is love
but not the pale, flimsy, small-l love
but the vibrant, fiery big-L Love
that's more ancient than the Babylonians
and will outlast us and time.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday

Today was the first day of my holiday! I was pretty excited and I showed it by sleeping in until twelve. I didn't do it intentionally, but I also didn't set my alarm clock. I also had this amazing, exciting dream. I woke up sometime during the morning (before twelve) and was lying in bed thinking about it. I remember thinking that it would be so awesome to write down in my dream journal (that I illustrate with stick figures), but when I actually got up, I couldn't remember what it was. SO frustrating. The only part I remember is that I somehow got shot in the chin and in the left cheek. Oh well, my dream journal will have to go on without it.

That afternoon, I went to a Good Friday service at Union Church, our sister church. It was a joint service with us, Community Church Hong Kong, Union Church, and German Church. I really, really liked the service. It alternated between Scripture reading and singing. Each of the songs were related to the reading. It kind of (very loosely) reminded me of the rhythm of St. Nick's Orthodox Church, the alternating between listening and participation. Especially around holidays, I really miss going to St. Nick's.

We sang one song that I had never heard before, but I thought was lovely. It's called And No Birds Sang, and it's about the actual crucifixion. We also sang two songs that I was really glad we sang, What Wondrous Love is This and O Sacred Head Now Wounded. Both are beautiful melodies with touching lyrics.

And No Birds Sang. I couldn't really find a good version of it. In fact, this was the only version I could find. So now that you kind of know the tune, you can look it up in a hymn book and play it yourself.

What Wondrous Love is This. The lyrics of this song are so simple but profound. "When I was sinking down...Christ laid aside his crown for my soul" and "And when from death I'm free I'll sing on." Just meditate on those lines for a little while. And the rest of the song, for that matter.

O Sacred Head Now Wounded. This version, the Fernando Ortega version, is one of my favorites. It really paints a picture of Christ's suffering for me. I love the last line the best: "Make me thine forever and should I fainting be, Lord let me never, never outlive my love for thee." That's truly my prayer. No matter what, keep my in your path, Lord.

I hope you all have a wonderful Good Friday too. Looking forward to Easter. I'll end with the lyrics of the most famous Orthodox Easter/Lent song.

Christ is risen from the dead,
trampling down death by death
and upon those in the tomb
bestowing life.

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Music Monday: Best Break-up Songs

I've been pretty lazy today. As I type, it's almost midnight. I haven't washed the dishes, I haven't worked on Spanish, I didn't get any Chinese history read, and I didn't even watch a movie. Sigh. BUT I did open a Pinterest account ( and begin pinning all sorts of beautiful pictures onto my boards. It basically gives you a place to put all of the beautiful pictures you've ever found on the internet. It automatically cites the source, so you don't have to worry about any plagiarism issues. It's fun. And slightly addictive.

But back to my main point, music. As I tentatively promised, it's all break-up songs today. I find break-up songs very interesting because people tend to deal with them in such different way. In "I Will Survive" the singer is focused on the strength she has found after being dumped whereas in "(I Hate) Everything About You" the singer is struggling between revulsion and longing.

I Will Survive, the Cake version. What do you think? This one or the Gloria Gaynor one?

(I Hate) Everything About You by Three Days Grace. This is a nice, sad, biting song that was played to death on the radio. On a side note, I've always been perplexed by the band's name. I'd almost think they were a Christian band or something. Definitely not.

Now on to the rest of my selections.

Don't Speak by No Doubt. This is a very plaintive song which, interestingly enough, seems to be about both a relationship break-up as well as tensions in the band. The video is a little strange at parts (um, rotten fruit?) but it tells an interesting story.

So What by Pink. I first heard this song riding in a friend's car, and I immediately liked it. Sure, she's arrogant and self-centered and aggressive. But she's also sad. I feel like she's trying to convince herself with the chorus. Besides, the music's pretty catchy.

Pulling Back the Skin by House of Heroes. In this song, the guy is conflicted. He thought he wanted her gone, but then he can't forget her. He broke up with her, but he's jealous when she's with someone else. Crazyhead! Nice music, as usual. Favorite lines: "I would like to see you only if to see you cry. I would like to kiss you only to kiss you goodbye. At best I have bad intentions, at worst I'd rather die than see you with another guy."

Don't Think of Me by Dido. If you feel like some sadness with a dose of crazy, then listen to Dido. I used to wonder why all of her songs were so sad, and then I got her name. Dido! Roman mythology, anyone? Anyway, in this song she's singing about an ex who is now with someone else.

Enamel by Brave Saint Saturn. I had this in my BSS post, but here it is again because it's so good. As I said before, it's a wonderful, snarky, angry break-up song. Apparently Reese's fiance broke off the engagement with no explanation, so I guess the lyrics make sense. Favorite lines: Well I hope you cannot sleep, and I hope you cannot smile, and I hope you're burdened with your guilt for quite awhile. I hope you fall in love and I hope that it is thwarted, and I hope that now you're back it's because you were deported."

No Woman No Cry by Bob Marley. And of course, this classic.

Ugly Day by Five Iron Frenzy. I don't know how I forgot this one, but Subtle Things reminded me of my egregious error. Seriously, it's genius.

Well, I'll leave it at that. You guys have anything to add?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Bangkok and Siem Reap in Video!

Hello, Bloggerland. So I've already posted extensive pictures and explanations about my Chinese New Year trip to Cambodia via Bangkok, but I'd forgotten that Lillian took some videos during our trip! They're pretty random, but I enjoyed watching them and reminiscing. Maybe these videos will give you a slightly better idea of what our trip was like.

Bangkok 1: In a Restaurant. This is when we got with Peter and hit up a sweet Thai restaurant. As Peter will tell you (kind of), we were in the area Victory Monument, so they named the restaurant Kitchen Monument. I also learned that Lillian is very tricky and will pretend to be taking a picture of you being a pirate when she's actually making a video. So tricksy!

Bangkok 2: On the River. This is a video of us riding a boat down one of Bangkok's many rivers. I tell you the many reasons you should visit Thailand, and we show you a sampling of our breakfast.

Bangkok 3: Wat Po Rap. After our river ride, we visited the Wat Po temple. A lady was collecting coins from these metal jars, and she was making a very nice rhythm with the clinking coins. Unfortunately, when I started rapping, the beat wasn't quite consistent. Here I debut my "wonderful" rapping skillz. I bet you never knew.

Phnom Penh: Tuk Tuk Troubles. This video shows our relief at finally getting a tuk tuk to the Russian Market for three dollars. Unbeknownst to us, we were neither heading towards the market nor getting away with just paying three dollars. But whatevs, right?

Siem Reap 1: Night Market. This video will show you the Siem Reap Night Market as well as give you a taste of traditional Khmer music. P.S. I didn't actually buy anything from that stall.

Siem Reap 2: Khmer Folk Dance Performance. This is a basket dance that shows a cute little flirtation. Very cool. And I love the girls' pants! They look super comfy.

K, that's all I got. Enjoy.

P.S. After much fussing, I finally figured out how to make the links work again! Yeah me! But seriously, I'm blogger illiterate. I don't know how to do anything cool, so this is really a big accomplishment for me. You should be proud.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Spirit of the Rainforest

I recently received a package from my friend Charles (thanks Charles!) containing the book Spirit of the Rainforest by Mark Andrew Ritchie. I was pretty excited about this, since I don't have the variety of books I used to enjoy. And anyway, who's not excited about getting a book in the mail?

I didn't really know anything about the book when I started reading it, but I was immediately hooked. It's about the Yanomamo, an indigenous people group living in the Amazon. Ritchie gathered stories from the people and recorded them through the voice of Jungleman, a prominent shaman. He assures us that "nothing here is fiction, not even slightly exaggerated." Some of the stories are so crazy, it's hard to believe that assertion, but he says that he checked and rechecked each story for authenticity. He writes, "...truth is stranger than fiction. Not only that, it's harder to believe, funnier, and far more adventuresome. I'm a nonfiction writer because fiction has to be "real," but nonfiction only has to have happened." I love that quote.

The whole first part of the book records Jungleman's life, the family dynamics, daily routines, wars, and, most startling, his spirituality. I've always believed that there are spirits in the world, like angels and demons, but I usually don't think about them very much. To Jungleman, the spirits were everything. They were his companions, his helpers, the things that gave him power. He talked about calling on them to help him murder children in other villages so that the other groups would become weaker and unable to attack his village later on. He was known as Child-Eater because of his skill in this area. If someone else sent a spirit to kill one of his children, his spirits would help him to chase after the soul and try to get it back. If he couldn't, the spirits would tell him who had killed the child and who they should attack for revenge. Crazy stuff.

Jungleman also mentioned another spirit, Yai Wana Naba Laywa, the unfriendly enemy spirit. He wrote about some interesting episodes. "One time I watched the shaman try to save a tiny girl from dying. When she was almost dead, the enemy spirit sent his hawk to grab her soul. The shaman called for the Ice Spirit and together they chased after the hawk to get the girl's soul back...he was too late. The hawk took the child's soul up through the bottom of the lake into the land of the great spirit. It was too hot and too bright and too noisy for the shaman to stay there. 'What is that place?' I asked my spirit friends. 'That land is where the great enemy spirit lives,' two of them said at once. 'He's the most powerful spirit there is but he's unfriendly.' He asked them "What about the noise?' 'That's all the other beings up there singing to him and celebrating. They're always celebrating something.'"

Is the great unfriendly spirit God? It kind of sounded like it, but I wasn't sure. I was more sure about it when Jungleman said that, to his horror, he found out that another shaman chose to throw his spirits because he wanted the enemy spirit. Jungleman's spirits were crowding around him, begging him not to throw them away too. He thought that was crazy. Why throw away all that power? They were so good to him.

The rest of the book is just as crazy as the first part. It's definitely hard to believe, and that's probably why Ritchie wrote an extensive addendum at the end of the book, saying that even though it's hard to believe, everything is true. He says that there are many details that he never would have known if it hadn't come from the Yanomamo's mouths (like the color of babies' brains). One story was so out there that a senior anthropologist told him he should leave it out because no one would ever believe it was true. He thought about it, but decided he couldn't choose to edit out another person's story.

Also, his story wasn't very easy to market. It didn't show anthropologists in a very flattering light. One prominent one was named "Irritating Bee" by the Yanomamos because he kept pestering them to tell him stories about their dead. One anthropologist's behavior was so outrageous that he was nicknamed A.H. (Ass Handler). Also, the men Ritchie interviewed didn't seem so keen on the anthropologist idea that indigenous people should be left in their pristine state, untouched by the outer world. The Yanomamo did want to change for the better. Shoefoot, the shaman who first threw away his spirits, said, "I'm not an animal to be studied. We want people who will help us improve our way of life, not just write books about us. We want people who will really care about us, like the man who came into my village and put his arm around me when I was covered with dirt, sweat, saliva, and mucous. This man shared in our suffering. He cared about our children. He showed us something we knew nothing about--love." He was talking about Keleewa, a missionary who had grown up with the tribe and acted as a translator for the project.

Of course, this story isn't really that appealing to the Christian crowd either. While it's evident how much the people loved Keleewa, it was definitely not flattering of all missionaries. Ritchie wrote about "a missionary who spanked an Indian woman with a stick, another one who had an inappropriate relationship with an underage girl, and others who were overtly racist against Indians. One semi-missionary even killed his Indian wife." Not so great. Besides that, most Christian publishing houses wouldn't jump at the chance to publish such a graphic book. It has numerous accounts of rape, molestation, abuse, killings, and all sorts of violence. Ritchie said that he was a bit uncomfortable writing some of those things, but he did want to portray the reality of their lives. I can't imagine it sitting on the shelf next to Chicken Soup for the Soul.

As a reader, this book wasn't always easy to read, but it was fascinating. I really enjoyed learning about the culture (even if some of it is disturbing). It was also awesome to see how God can work in different places and diverse ways. If you can handle it, I'd definitely check out this book. Then you can decide for yourself what you think. And if you're in Hong Kong, I'll even lend you my copy. :)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Music Monday: Best Love Songs

I was going to do this post for Valentine's Day, but I was pretty busy with Hannah here. Then I had so many other ideas so I never got around to it. But here it is!

I like a variety of love songs, some popular and some not so popular. I generally like them first for their music, but the lyrical content definitely adds to the song.

Hey There Delilah by Plain White T's. This is a classic. It may have been overplayed on the radio, but it's still very nice. It's simple with cute lyrics and nice background violins. I also like it because it's a perfect range for me to sing. :D I hadn't seen this video before, so that's cool.

Blush (Only You) by Plumb. I like Plumb, and that's saying a lot since I don't listen to a lot of female artists. I really like the intro and when she first comes in. The chorus also has some nice intensity. Finally, the lyrics are sweet and hopeful.

Oh Boy by MxPx. Yes, yes, here's another WAY old song, but it's so good! This one is just a fun, punk song sung by a hopeful lover. I also have fond feelings towards this song because when I broke my wrists, Rosey was playing it while driving to the hospital. I really liked it so she kept playing it over and over again so that I could learn the lyrics. Fun times.

If by House of Heroes. LOVE this song. The lyrics for part of the verses are a bit strange, but they sound good to the ear, and the chorus lyrics are very good. When I saw them in concert, I was also amazed that all three of the guys have amazing voices, not just the lead.

Circle in the Sand by Belinda Carlisle, covered by [spunge]. I adore the [spunge] version of this song. It's a very energetic, upbeat love song, a nice change from a lot of the slow, sappy-sounding songs. If you really like slow and sappy, then check out the original by Carlisle; it's an interesting 80s song.

Well, I'd probably better leave it at that. Do you guys have any favorites of your own? Like (or dislike) any of these ones?

Maybe next Monday I'll have to do the best break-up songs.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Youth Sunday

It was a good day. I stayed up late last night so I was pretty tired. My body really wanted to sleep in, but I was supposed to be one of the people sharing at Spectrum (youth) Church today. A little powdered cappuccino does a world of good sometimes.

Church was really nice. Lots of the kids pitched in to help out in various aspects, and that was great to see. During worship, one kid's guitar string snapped, but he somehow kept playing and was able to finish two songs. After worship we talked about missions, since ten of the senior youth are going to Thailand over Easter break with Habitat for Humanity. Lillian talked about what missions is, and I shared about missions at home (good, since I've never been on an international mission trip). A teen shared about his own missions experience.

I've been so proud of some of them. It's awesome to see them help and reach out to others and work as leaders. It's great to hear their hearts. I'm so thankful for the opportunity to work with these awesome teenagers, and I pray God continues working in their lives.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Mysterious Monkey Mountain

On Tuesday I went on a hike with my parents on the Mysterious Monkey Mountain, also known as Shing Mun Country Park. It was a the perfect day for a hike! It was cool and a little breezy, but not cold. Simply splendid.

It took us a long time to even get there. We left our house at eleven and took a bus to the MTR station. We then took one MTR, switched to another MTR, rode for twenty minutes, got off, and then wandered around until we found the right minibus stop. The line for the minibus was HUGE! Apparently a popular cemetery for grave-sweeping was in the same direction. We had to wait until the FIFTH minibus, and they seat sixteen people. Mom and I were betting which minibus we'd get on, and I won, so tonight Mom and Dad bought me ice cream.

I guess the picture doesn't do it justice, but this was the super long line.

We finally made it to the park and got started. We first walked by a reservoir that had lots of picnic/BBQ around it. We had bought a lunch at our neighborhood bakery and ate it on a bench by the reservoir.

There are so many monkeys in the park! The signs say not to feed them, but it seems like a lot of people ignore that warning. I have mixed feelings about monkeys. They are really cute, but at the same time they can also be a little scary. They're deceptively strong! And when there's a whole gang of monkeys blocking your trail, they can be a bit intimidating. Especially when we passed one monkey whose face looked kind of like Harvey Dent's from Batman. It wasn't quite as bad as Harvey's, but it was still scary. His eye was ok, but his whole mouth had rotted away on one side, and he had a huge growth on his butt. I had to pass really close to him to continue on the trail, and I kind of scurried around him. Poor, creepy monkey.

A plethora of monkeys (shoutout to Mrs. Carochi for teaching me that word)

Mother and child.

It was a nice hike! We were pretty tired at the end. When we got home we just plopped onto the couch and watched the Brother's Bloom (hence the last post). I did end up washing my (and Mom's) Chacos. I had stepped in a nice big monkey plop. It's just as well, I suppose. They needed a bath anyway. I love Chacos.

Apparently this well-paved trail is only for "experienced hikers." Hmmm.

Even in the wild you can't get away from the city.

So happy.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Music Monday: The Brothers Bloom

Man, I am tired. So tired. Today was a public holiday, the day you go visit your ancestor's graves. My parents and I decided to go hiking instead. The night before I had gone to an AMAZING dinner at some church friend's house. Seriously, the food was spectacular. We had: pita with hummus, pita with pate, mushroom soup, salad with duck breast and cranberries and almonds, steak, salmon steak encrusted with garlic and wasabi, lasagna, cupcakes, molten chocolate cake with coconut sorbet, and coffee. Words can't even describe how good that was and how FULL I was. Afterwards we played games and hung out. Good times with good friends.

Since I had such a great time the night before (and coffee), I stayed up pretty late and was really tired when I got up this morning. I tried to get some stuff done before we left, and we headed out the door around eleven. It was a very nice hike, but I'll tell you more about that in another post, when I can show you pictures too.

We didn't get back until after six, and we were very tired. We took turns taking showers, ate dinner, and then watched The Brothers Bloom. Have any of you seen that movie? I had watched it before, and I enjoyed re-watching it. It's a different kind of movie; it's not so flashy and action-packed as most movies these days, but it's sweet and interesting. The story is about two brothers who become career con-men and are trying to do their last, greatest con. Here's a trailer, for those of you who haven't seen the film. Hopefully it will make you want to watch it.

I really love the music from this movie. They do a great job of taking one theme and developing it as the scenes progress. Here's the original, Penelope's Theme. It's simple and beautiful.

Here is Meeting Penelope, where they begin developing it a bit.

Brothers in a One Hat Town is much more upbeat but with a similar feel as the others. It also incorporates a smidge of the original theme.

Finally, there's the credit's song, The Fabulist. This is a totally different style than the rest of the movie. It's more of an indie, shoe-gazer song, but it definitely fits with the rest of the music.

These songs all would be perfect playing in the background during a gardening time or a writing session or a wine and cheese party. Or maybe when you're writing your own perfect con.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Weekend Fun: Sotheby's, Mexican Food, Prince Edward, Etc.

I had such an interesting yet slightly tiring weekend.

Friday night was youth group as usual. We've recently started playing the game Signs, which is pretty awesome. My sign is the double thumbs up. USA represent! After youth, I went out for sushi with Lillian and Josh. They have these fun conveyor belts that rotate with plates of sushi on them. You can pick one off the conveyor belt if you want to, but they're mainly just for show; you probably should order a fresh one.

Saturday was work, of course, but I met up with Alvin afterwards at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center (Centre, I suppose). The Sotheby's auction house is having an ongoing auction in Hong Kong, and you can go view the things they are auctioning off. Can I say nice? Like, really nice? Like, millions of dollars for just one item.

They had several original Picasso's, as well as a Monet and a Manet. Whew. They also had all these antique Chinese ceramics and old Chinese art and modern Chinese art and jewelry and wine. They also had coffee, and the coffee was free!

We had worked up quite a hunger when the place closed so we headed over to Central to eat dinner. I've been wanting to go to Taco Loco for a long time, since I'm always craving Mexican food. When we got there, there were no empty seats! Instead of turning us away or making us wait, the staff ushered us next door into a diner/deli type restaurant. Kind of funny, but it works! The food was decent, but nothing to write home about. But of course the price was decent too, so no complaints here.

Today (Sunday), I went to church as usual. We heard some exciting news today! My church, Community Church Hong Kong, will be moving to Sheung Wan! The location we're at now is kind of out of the way. The church would prefer to be more in the heart of the city in order to be more effective in outreach. It's pretty exciting, but now I'll have to figure out a new transportation route. :)

After the service I went to lunch with Damien and Tiff. It was really fun to talk with them and get to know them better. The Japanese food was pretty good too. :) We finished lunch around two, and I had told Lillian that I would meet her at three thirty, so I decided to wait for her at a local coffee-shop. I brought along a book to read and enjoyed some quiet time at the Bonfire Cafe.

Lillian came and picked me up from the cafe, and we headed over to Prince Edward for some shopping fun. We both wanted to buy some shoes, but that didn't really happen. On the bright side, I did get some pretty sweet clothes. Since the weather is starting to warm up, I need some short-sleeved clothes I can wear to work. My work is pretty casual, but I still think I should be a step above my "Freaking Hosses" t-shirt.

I'm sad that I forgot my camera; Prince Edward is a crazy place! I finally bought an ice cream from a Mobile Smoothie (smoothie?) truck. I've been bummed about missing out on getting ice cream truck ice cream before leaving the States, so this kind of makes up for it. Kind of. The market was super crowded, and there are people selling all kinds of things from clothes to wallets to underwear to flowers. There's all sorts of outlet/sample shops so I got some pretty good deals. It did take a lot of hunting, though. Both Lillian and I were pretty tired so we ended up nixing the shoe-shopping in favor of eating dinner at a noodle shop. I even had a refreshing coconut drink afterwards. It was nice.

Maybe in a later post I'll show off some of my new clothes. Crazy, but my style is getting slightly more Asian. I'm even beginning to like the oversized shirts! But I don't want to go too crazy. If I ever show up wearing furry Clydesdale boots, dump pants, bling-bling jewelry and a HelloKitty purse, please shoot me.