Monday, November 30, 2009

november 2009

About three weeks ago I went with the Kairos team (mentioned in an earlier post) to the Beto maximum security unit in Palestine, TX. Like I mentioned before, Kairos is a prison ministry, and a special one at that. We spent the entire weekend over there ministering to a select group of guys. We brought them food, cookies, and a whole lot of God's love. I'm not sure if I can get into all the details, so I'll just say we all had a great time. You could really feel God's presence in that place, it was amazing. Some of the guys received Christ for the first time, and others were refreshed and encouraged in their Christian walk. There was even one guy who converted from Islam! It was amazing. I made a whole bunch of new friends and brothers, and I look forward to sharing with them in future visits, and corresponding with them by mail.

On the following weekend, we went back to the unit for the "Day of Instruction" (or something along those lines), which was pretty much a short "course" for them to teach them how to meet with their "Prayer and Share" groups. We discussed the structure of the meetings, the dos/don'ts, etc. I was able to give a talk on "study", the purpose of which was to encourage the guys to read the Bible and other books that would further them in the knowledge of Christ, and also to encourage them to share with each other what the Spirit reveals to them in their studies. It was great seeing the guys again. God willing, I'll be going back with the team on the 12th of December for a Christmas holiday party. I'll keep you posted.


Just this past Thanksgiving weekend, I had the chance to visit my sister in Atlanta. I met her boyfriend for the first time, who seems to be a nice guy, which makes me happy for my sister. We spent Thanksgiving day at his dad's place. The family showed me great hospitality, and I had a great time. We ate a lot, watched the Dallas Cowboys game, and played a card game called "Golf".

On Friday, we pretty much chilled for most of the day, running errands and whatnot (that was after my sister and her boyfriend went Black Friday shopping at some ridiculously early hour). I treated them to Vietnamese food for lunch, which was interesting since it was the first time my sister had Vietnamese food. I had tried to get her to eat it in the past, but she acted like she found it disgusting or something. So, since we were hungry, I figured it was a good idea to tell her I'd pay for lunch if she just gave it a chance. She had Phở Tái Chín, and even tried some of my Phở Bò Kho, and she seemed to love it. She even took a copy of the menu home. ;-)
After lunch we hung out at her apartment, and then went to a friend's house to spend the evening. I was able to meet her salsa friends. There were a bunch of Puerto Ricans there, and a Chinese girl. The Chinese girl was the girlfriend of one of the guys, and it was funny/interesting seeing the dynamic they had. She can speak and understand quite a bit of Spanish, and her accent is quite good. What's funny about it was that because her boyfriend is Puerto Rican, she has picked up the Puerto Rican accent, and even Puerto Rican words and expressions. The girl can cook Puerto Rican food too. I'd say the guy is set. ;D

You can tell I was impressed/amused by what I witnessed.

The day before my departure (Saturday), we drove to Blue Ridge, GA, which is where the rest of my family was staying (or, the family that lives in Georgia, anyway). They had rented a cabin up in the mountains for the weekend, so we paid them a visit. It was a blessing to see my family for the first time in almost a year. We had great conversations, ate a lot of food, and just had a good time together. I was able to see my little cousin again, who has grown up quite a bit since I saw him last. At one point he asked me "when are you coming back?" --- at which I think my heart exploded. We said our goodbyes, and drove back to my sister's. We then went out for a night of salsa dancing at the studio where my sister attends (she's also in a "performance" team there). If you have been following my posts, you know I haven't salsa danced in a long time. Well, I suppose I made up for it that day. I danced almost non-stop. There was a good mix of experienced and new dancers, and I danced with most of the ladies there. One interesting observation was that there seems to be a big Russian community in Atlanta. I hadn't met so many Russians before in my life, haha. Anyway, at some point they did an amateur salsa competition, and I paired up with one of the Russian ladies. We made it to the final two, but, the other couple had quite the number of friends in the audience, which overwhelmed the amount of applause that we got. And I thought my partner's Russian peoples in the audience would give us the advantage, haha. Oh well, it's all good, we had a great time. I look forward to going back some time in the future. The bad news is that I think I have the "salsa itch" again. We'll see if I can make time to start going out again.

Here is a picture of me with my dance partner :-)

Until next time.
May God bless you and keep you.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

october 2009, continued

October has been quite the eventful month. I attended Kevin's wedding, went to the Mary Poppins musical, helped out at the Plano International Festival, went on three dates with a girl (*ahem*), went to the Third Day concert, Tekken 6 came out, and I gave a talk at church, in front of the whole congregation.

...Yep, it sounds amazing (to me, at least). It's just hard to believe that I went from being a guy that didn't want to go anywhere near a church, to somehow serving God by talking at church on a Wednesday evening service. But, that just goes to show how awesome God is, making something out of nothing.

The talk was titled "Sharing our faith". I discussed what, how, when, where and why we share our faith. I mainly focused on Scripture throughout, meaning I didn't really "preach" or anything. I explained "what" the Christian faith is about using various verses from the Bible, with the "mindset" of having a situation where someone asks you to share your faith with them. The "how" wasn't as straight-forward, as many different situations call for different approaches, and honestly, I don't know. It's one of those "say what God puts in your heart" and "do what He tells you to do" kinda deals. The "when" and "where" were pretty easy (anytime, anywhere). The "why", well, was pretty easy too. God gives us so much without us even having to do a single thing (all we need to do is receive it), that it should be motivation alone to share it with others. I provided some Scriptures throughout the whole thing, and shared my testimony in the "why". Also, I threw in a story and/or joke here and there throughout the talk.

Overall, I think it went well. People seemed to have a good time.

Anyway, I don't take credit for it. I recognize that God helped me every step of the way, and that if it wasn't for Him, I wouldn't even be attending church in the first place. It felt kinda weird to have people congratulating me and thanking me after service was over. I mean, I guess I wanted to say "thanks" to their gratitude, but I recognize that it's God who deserves the glory and appreciation. All I did was read the Bible and talk about what I read. In any case, I'm glad they liked it. :)

I'll conclude by saying that I'm thankful to God for bringing me this far, and for putting me under my Pastor's guidance (I'll put up a picture of him sometime). I just can't imagine where I would be or what my state of heart and mind would be like if God hadn't rescued me from where I was three years ago. Words can't describe it. I love God so much. I never want to let go. The kicker is that He loves me more than I love Him. Who can understand Him?