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Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Where She Goes, I Go…

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Hello, my name is “Uke Blue”.

I was amazed to get Janiecross into ukulele playing. She had never learned how to play a musical instrument before, but it was love at first strung!

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She would bring me to the beach– to practice her melodic pieces.

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I think I must have brought her so much excitement that she even took me on vacation half way across the globe.

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We serenaded to each other by the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

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We jammed with King David on his harp in Israel.

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We worshiped God early in the morning as the radiant sunrise smoldered across the golden city.

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I am not sure if she is lucky to find me or was I lucky to have found her…

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these days, where she goes, I go;

on outdoor adventures from the mountains high to the valleys low, and through crystal clear waters;

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Regardless of the different adventures, we are always enjoying, seeing, and experiencing God’s big beautiful world!

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I enjoy singing hymns because the lyrics are often descriptive and full of images of God and His wonderful working.

Take for example, a line from one such hymn is “Like a river glorious is God’s perfect peace“:a strong image of God’s peace.

I have experienced God’s peace in my Christian journey but sometimes it’s hard to express the feeling I was experiencing.

I am thankful to song writers who were attuned to God, and were able to attach vivid words to express their sentiment with God.

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While on a river cruise recently, I experienced the metaphor of a river representing the peace of God that the song speaks of (主所赐的平安…仿佛江河流).

Our team was on a tour to scout the proboscis monkeys (long-nosed monkey) in the wild. This trip was like a safari to see wild creatures of the jungle; instead of travelling on a Land Rover, we were on a river cruise.

There was no guarantee that we would see the monkeys. For if the weather is too hot, the monkeys will be in the hiding; and if the day is cooling, they will play by the water.

As we traveled along the water, we were all excited to spot some monkeys dangling on the branches and swinging from trees to trees in family units. Its like watching a circuit show outdoor.

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Since we were in the open jungle, we could only watch the playful monkeys in the distance, not up close and personal, like at the zoo.

Drifting along the swampy river in the open raft, and marveling at the scenery of local villages on both banks was restful and pleasant.

After a while, I found myself more interested in the crystal clear water in front of me than the acrobatic monkeys up on the faraway woods.

While taking in the soothing and breezy cool air on my skin, my eyes continued to mesmerize by the calming flowing water, and it was glorious — just like what the hymn writer, Frances R. Havergal, penned:

Like a river glorious is God’s perfect peace,
Over all victorious, in its bright increase;
Perfect, yet it floweth fuller every day,
Perfect, yet it groweth deeper all the way.
*Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest
Finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest.

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As it was near sunset, many of the river boats started to head back to the docks.

Our awesome tour guide however motioned our boat guy to cruise further down the stream to the mouth of the river… where the river meets the open sea.

He stated that since it was such a great sunny evening, he didn’t want us to miss the rare opportunity of experiencing a fantastic sunset by the swelling South China Sea!

There, we were allowed to step on the secluded shoreline, dip our feet into the warm water and soak in the orange sunset for a good half hour.

As I stood in front of this alluring sea and listening to the soothing sound of the waves rolling in gleefully from afar, I seem to hear their gentle whisper: The Lord may calm your storm, but more often He’ll calm you(quote taken fr. Our Daily Bread).

Indeed *Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest
Finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest.

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Painting by my artist friend Phoebe Wang.

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When strolling along the beaches, many people like to take picture of their footprints in the sand.

Perhaps it’s a way to make a statement like “hey, I was here & here’s the proof”;
or maybe it’s just a sheer joy to take pictures of our footprints by the surging waves!

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Footprints on the beach are definitely a fun sight to stumble upon. These are the footprints of my sister while we were enjoying the dramatic twilight by the South China Sea.

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I delight in this famous poem, “Footprints”, which has brought comfort to many souls.

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One night a man had a dream.
He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Across the sky flashed scene from his life.
He noticed two sets of footprints in the sand.

When the last scene of his life flashed before him he noticed that many times there was only one set of footprints.
He also noticed that it was at the very lowest times in his life.
He questioned the Lord about it.

“Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you you’d walk with me all the way. But I have noticed there is only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why when I needed you most you would leave me.”

The Lord replied, “My precious child, I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”

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This poem is an oasis to weary souls; It brings to mind the invitation Jesus gives in Matthew 11:28:

“Come unto me all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

Years ago, I had the opportunity to pose with the author of Footprints, Margaret Powers, who happens to be the mom of one of my fellow students at Bible college.

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Here’s the story behind the poem.

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Before this February comes to an end, I would like to say a quick thank you to my fabulous family and fabulous friends for a Fabulous February.

This year, I went back to celebrate Chinese New Years and other special occasions in Asia; I had so much fun and many memorable times with my family and friends, and I felt so much…

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As I gaze at this photograph that I took by the Caribbean Sea in Cartagena; a piece of insightful writing by my spiritual mentor comes to my mind:

“Christmas is here, signalling the end of the year but also heralding the beginning of the new year. Perhaps this is the significance of the Christmas season — that because Christ has come, therefore we can now have an end to our old life and a beginning of our new life.”

What a profound Christmas reflection indeed!

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Traditional Food of Medellin

IMG_1778The above  delicacy is a 6-inch  pizza adorned with  chunky chicharrón (Colombia-style fried pork belly), sausage, beans and guacamole, it is deliciously tasty.  

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Our team had tried many delicious meals in Medellin  and two of my favorite dishes were Sancocho and Bandeja paisa which happened to be the traditional meals of Medellin.

On our last day at the church, one family prepared this hearty traditional soup dish, sancocho, for our lunch.

The steaming clear bowl of savory soup was aromatic and flavorful and it is cooked with some meat stock and vegetable roots.

It consists of a big chunk of beef brisket, plantains, maize, potatoes and yucca, and is eaten with a side dish of rice and avocado.

This delicious soup tastes best when garnished chopped cilantro and lemon juice.

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Another of my favorite is Bandeja Paisa, the national dish of Colombia.

Bandeja means “platter or tray”; and Paisa refers to “the people from the region in northwest Colombia”.

The “platter of paisa”, a sumptuous meal, is served on a plate with rice, chorizo sausage, fried egg, plantain, ground roast beef, corn bread, salad, avocado, and a long stripe of deep fried pork belly called  chicharrón.  The dish also comes with a bowl of mixed beans and potato soup.

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The most appetizing part of this dish is definitely the chicharrón (the long cracking, crispy, chunky strip of 1-inch thick bacon).

Whenever we had this dish, one strip of the thick fried, fatty and oily pork belly was not enough for me, but my team members loved to share their portions with me as they were not into this super fatty deep fried delicacy!

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At the leadership retreat by the country side, I had the first hand experience to observe how this national dish was prepared.

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It was an extremely time consuming dish to prepare for the belly!!

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roast beef ready to be shredded

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silken and creamy avocado

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delicious deep-fried platain

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Let’s dig in!

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Buen provecho!

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Another sweet treat  of Colombia is the crispy oblea and arequipe spread.

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Obleas – are thin slices of circular wafers;
Arequipe – dulce de leche, creamy caramel cooked from condense milk & sugar.
Our host was able to order 20 packets of freshly baked Obleas and packaged Arequipe for me to bring home to share with friends and family, and my Sunday School Children!
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This traditional treat can often be purchased at a street vendor.
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A Place of Shelter

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Christmas sure comes early this year for me as I had this rare opportunity to visit Colombia this past November.

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Our team went to Colombia and partnered with El Redil Church to set up a new worship center in the district of Laureles.

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Over the past twenty years, the ministry team at El Redil has set up 10 evangelical churches in the city of Medellin.

“El Redil” in Spanish means “The sheepfold” — A sheepfold is a safe shelter or dwelling place for sheep.

“El Redil” ministry is based on John 10 where Jesus said that He is the Great Shepherd who loves us and lays down His life for us.

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The Fold, that we helped establish this time is the 10th church; and a church is usually defined as a group of believers gather together to worship the Living God and to make Him known.

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After the last splash of paint, the old building completed its face-lift, and transformed into an homey place.

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We also facilitated conversational English classes at the new church building which attracted around 80 professionals and university students to come for a fun time of language learning.

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Those who normally do not attend a church worship service were invited to connect with the new church family so that they can make El Redil de Laureles a place of shelter to experience the living God.

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One weekend, we were invited to take part in the Family Leadership Retreat hosted by the El Redil ministry. One of the relatives generously sheltered us for a get-away at their country home.

Morning exercise

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Communal Worship Dance

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Team building games

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Servant leadership

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Gospel sharing using Lego pieces on placing our faith in Jesus.

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One evening, we participated in a Praise Parade from another El Redil branch churches, Inglesia El Redil De Sur.

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Since it was near Christmas, the parade is all about Christ Jesus. On that day, we wore neon color of orange and green t-shirt that declared “It’s Jesus”; and the balloons proclaimed “Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life”.  

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Many biked, some traveled on wheelchairs and the rest of us walked. We went around the block and busy streets praising God, with policemen escorting us and directing the traffic.

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Along the way, we gave out flyers to invite people to check out the church.

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After the parade, we stopped by a bustling park where the pastor commissioned his flocks to reach out and invite the people at the park on how they can be a part of the church and find hope in Christ.

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When this church first started 4 years ago at the mall, there were only 10 families; Now the church people have over 400 members and they still meet and worship at the shopping mall.

¿cómo crezco en esta iglesia: How do I grow in this church?

#1 Asisto: to attend

#2 Conozco: to know

#3 Aprendo: to learn

#4 Pertenezco: to belong

#5 Sirvo: to serve

Groupos De conexión: Group connection

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