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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Six Stitches ...

As I lay there on the sterile sheets covering the narrow hospital bed, an old man on my right moans in pain and mumbles nonsensical words to himself. "He's probably delirious," I thought to myself. It has been more than twenty years since my last emergency room visit, and fortunately this time around my dad didn't have rush me through the doors with a blood drenched cloth over my face.

Still waiting for the anesthesia to kick in, I look to my left and see a faint outline of a severely swollen foot through the privacy screen. The man and his wife are speaking in a foreign tongue, I can understand nothing but I sense that she is deeply concerned for his welfare ... how sweet. The female doctor walks to them with X-rays in hand, probably still trying to figure out what to say. They talk at length about the broken bone while I wonder how much longer before it is my turn. The bleeding has mostly stopped by now, but I am still holding onto a stained towel just in case the open wound starts spewing blood again.

The poor man on my left is still trying to figure out what the doctor is saying, "So this fracture is better than a broken bone?" he asks incredulously. The doc, slightly caught off guard, stutters a bit before she replies "No No ... uh ... I mean Yes ... fracture ... broken bone ... same thing, same same." I haven't heard the phrase "same same" used since my blue sky vacation in Thailand over a year ago. Why do people intentionally use poor grammar to communicate to those who have a hard enough time understanding normal English grammar?

A nurse walks towards me holding several bottles of antiseptic and various metallic instruments. I subconsciously flinch at the sight of the tiny needle, knowing that it'll be used to stitch me up. Vivid details of how the doctor jabbed a big needle into my hurting lip just minutes ago keep flashing in my head. Trying to distract myself, I look around and see that several nurses hovering around a computer screen. I squint a little to make out what they are looking at ... a red and white webpage design ... pictures of pillows and bed sheets ... IT'S OVERSTOCK.COM! I can't believe they are trying to buy stuff on the web when I'm bleeding to death just meters away.

Honestly I don't think the anestesia is working, but the tradeoff of telling the doctor just isn't worth it. Who in their right mind would want to get two more shots on their lip? Stitches can't possibly hurt that badly, can it? I read a study recently that claims that the anticipation of pain is often worse than the pain itself. It's hard to deny such a claim because everyone knows how your mind can really mess with you, especially one with such vivid imagination.

The doctor covers my eyes and most of my face with a blue cloth and proceeds to stitch my open lip together. My head jerks to the left as she pulls it through my lip over and over again. This must be what a fish feels like, being hooked on a string. Six stitches. That's how many it takes to mend the wound caused by a freak accident: a violent collision of a hard head and my soft lips during a basketball game.

Six Stitches ...

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Friday, June 23, 2006

Sunny Delight

Some of you have asked me what we finally decided to name my discussion group. So here's your answer, we named it "Sunny Delight." It was a great struggle to find a name as witty and corny as the previous name, but alas we located a suitable name just in time. (Keep in mind that this is a collegian cell group, so the lameness is still allowed!)

WHY?

That's a great question. Let's take a look at Revelations 22:5. Here John describes New Jerusalem by saying, "And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever."

So in short, we want to be a group that delights in the light of the Lord. And to top it off, Sunny Delight has a great slogan, "Unleash the Power of the Sun." Since we love to be such witty wordsmiths, we're going to adopt it with "Unleash the Power of the Son" instead.

Sonny Delight ... get it? HAHA! I told you it was corny ...

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Hotties for Christ

For the past week I've been thinking up names for a discussion group I lead at church. Our cell group has a water theme, so for this new quarter, all the groups are supposed to have their names be a drink of some kind. After the first brain storming session, some witty person in the group came up with the name HOT TEA while saying, "Ooo and if you say it really quickly, it'll sound like hottie. Then each week when we split up someone will have say "All the hotties go into that room"" (I don't exactly know why, but the combination of corniness and wittiness made it a genius idea).

Sadly, that name was rejected by executive order. Supposedly it's not Christ-centered, and that the older and more conservative folks in the church would not think it is appropriate. Way to take all the fun out of life ... Grrrr.

To appease the first objection, I made up this acronym:

Christ is
H oly
O minipotent
T ranscendent
T riune
E verlasting
A lmighty

Pretty Christ centered now, huh? Come on, I said Christ is Triune ... isn't that worth at least 3 spiritual coolness points?!? Deep ... so deep. Alright, so that was shot down too. Which now brings me to think, how many older Chinese folks will actually get the joke? When they hear Hot Tea, all they are going to think about is what kind of dimsum they will have with their hot tea. Who would actually say it quick enough to get it? Plus, what's wrong with being a hottie anyway? Especially a hottie for Christ?

In Revelations 3, John records God's rebuke of the Laodicea Church which reads, "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hotl I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth ..." I'm not going to try to get into the depth of meaning on this blog entry, but the point is (yea I know I'm stretching it), I would rather be a hottie than be lukewarm.

Long live the Hotties for Christ!

(I don't get it, but when I searched for the phrase "Hotties for Christ" on google image, the picture of Legolas is the first hit ... very interesting)

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Cheater's Heaven

One of my gripes about living in the Far East is the lack of moral integrity in the population. It happens in every stratus of the society: from bribing local government official to paying kickback fees to get through all the bureaucratic red tape. Everyone is so focused on accomplishing what they set out to do (making money or getting a good grade) that they simply ignore their Jiminy Cricket.

Since China has such a large population and a small number of accredited universities, the competition for academic excellence is huge, and many students resort to cheating to get an advantage over their peers. What's even more depressing is that a lot of times the professors actually encourage the students to cheat, since good test grades by students somehow correlate to the fact that they were taught by a good professor.

This is all very unsettling ... go read this article.

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Stressed out Baboons!

I love the discovery channel. We can learn so much about human interaction by studying animal behavior. Take lions for example, male lions urinate all over the savanna to mark their territory so other males wouldn't intrude into his controlling land.

I'm sure I've seen people do that ... well, not urinate all over the place, but you know what I mean.

So I was reading this article this morning about scientists pinpointing specific events that stress out baboons. I would like to post some excerpts from the article here so we can all learn from our furry friends.

"In one case, an adult female, her adult daughter and a sister all attempted to usurp the power of another unit. After a week of fighting and high stress, the lower-ranked group gave up. In the second period of observed instability, an adult female named Cat ran off with a high-ranked male for several days. When she returned, a "Cat-fight" ensued with the other females. The fights not only lowered the status of Cat, but also placed the unfortunate baboon’s daughter, sisters, aunt and their children to the bottom of the hierarchy."

I'm sure I've seen that before too .... hmmm.

"Engh says she believes baboons in their natural habitat actually cope with stress better than humans do. "Humans, in contrast (to baboons), get stressed out about many things, often things that are of little significance in our lives or are completely abstract threats," she said. "We would probably be better off aping baboons and worrying only about the important things in our lives."

How true, how true ...

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Friday, June 16, 2006

The Hugging Generation

My gangster friend alerted me of a very interesting news story about teens and hugging. Basically, the story goes that some school districts are trying to ban students from hugging each other because hugging has become such a phenomenon in schools. And of course, students are fighting back by insisting their right to hug.

If you have a couple spare minutes, you should definitely read the article. Kids are just strange these days, I don't remember people excessively hugging each other when I was in school, what's up with that?!? When I was in high school, we hugged each other from time to time, but never when we're just passing by each other in the hallway. I'm all for hugs, but this just seems a bit over the board, especially when they have all these names for different hugging styles: exponential hug, drive-by hug, true friend hug, fantastic news hug, grandma hug .... etc.

When I went to college, all the hugging stopped. For some reason guys and girls got the impression that they should never ever touch each other, except with a long stick. Touching meant EVIL and hence us holy people just never hugged. Maybe during graduation we touched each other for one fleeting moment, but that's about it. Things were a little different between the guys though, my roommate P would come into my room and ask me for a hug periodically, and J would insist on having a group hug every Sunday night ... and if you're wondering, P and J are both happy married now. Can you see a trend here?

If you ask me, I would say hugs for everybody. Everyone needs to be reaffirmed that they are loved and cared for in a tangible way from time to time. And what better way is there than a genuine embrace? As the someone from the article said, "If everyone did it (hugging), the world would be a better place."

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Friday, June 09, 2006

On People Watching ...

I am not a stalker. Really, I'm not. But I do enjoy people watching.

I believe that everyone has an interesting life story. Sometimes the story is filled with blessings, sometimes they are marred by tragedy. But whatever the case may be, everyone has a story they want to tell you.

It's amazing how much you can learn about somebody with just careful observation. I love how you can paint a creative picture of a person's life by looking at the clothes they wear, by watching they way they walk - every stride and gait tells a different story, by listening to how they talk, by noting their mannerisms, and if you're brave enough, by staring deeply into their eyes for a glimpse of their soul.

When I was in East Asia, every now and then I would ride my bike to a busy shopping area, buy a cup of pearl milk tea, find some clean steps and just sit and watch people. It's something that I needed to do when I have a case of compassion fatigue. When your life is basically sharing the Gospel with strangers while trying to love them with all your heart, it's only a matter of time before it wears you out physically and emotionally. At times I would catch myself disengage emotionally when I'm sharing with people and I would scream at myself in my head asking, "WHERE ARE YOU? WHERE'S YOUR LOVE FOR THESE PEOPLE?" I really don't know how Jesus loves us so boundlessly ... I can't comprehend it.

So when I sit there on the steps next to some form of spit/snot/urine (yes people love to do all those things in public over there), I would ask God to soften my heart of stone and help me to love. I would sit there for hours praying for the passerby ... imagining their life stories, trying to feel their inner pains and struggles, feeling their confusion in this godless world. It wouldn't be long before I break into tears ... because I would once again realize that this life we live is a tragic story, and for a lot of people, it continues tragically in eternity.

It has almost been a year since I came back to America, and a lot of times I wonder why I don't go people watching anymore. Could it be that my heart is simply dried up and drained of love for others? Or am I simply too busy caring only for my sorry self?

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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

I Need a Pet!

I don't know why, but I just spent the last 2 minutes staring at my computer screen watching this amusing video of a kitten playing with a laptop. This all makes me think that I am in desperate need a pet ... or at least some type of cute creature that will follow me around and be my minion.

Now that I think about it, most evil characters in movies have their own little sidekick. Jafar from Aladdin has that annoying parrot, Scar from Lion King has those ugly hyenas, and Dr. Evil has mini-me. It's too bad that I'm not evil, it would've been cool to get an evil gremlin or a vicious goblin to do my dirty work ... like doing my laundry and parking my car. Oh well, I'm definitely in need of a pet ...

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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Thunder and Lightning!

The weather these past couple weeks reminded me of Ithaca and Seattle weather. It's like Ithaca weather because it's perpetually cloudy and deprived of sun; it builds that gloomy and dreary atmosphere, driving people depressed to the point of suicide (FYI - Cornell does not have the highest suicide rate in the nation)! It's also like Seattle weather because it's always misty in the morning and it rains at least a little bit each day.

The last leg of the car ride coming back from Kentucky featured one of the most exciting and frightening display of nature's raw power I've ever seen. We hit a gigantic thunderstorm system that covered the entire state of Pennsylvania. It was lightning and thundering every second and it started hailing somewhere in the middle. I simply can't describe in words how crazy it was, I wish you were there to see it.

While struggling hard to see the road two feet in front of the van, I wondered if God was talking to me in thunder. Perhaps that's why I just love thunderstorms so much. They never fail to give you that "out of the world" feeling ... humbling you to reaffirm that you have no control whatsoever of the world around you. It blows my mind when I try to imagine how BIG God must be and how small we are. I wish I had the chance to revisit that thunderstorm again.

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Friday, June 02, 2006

Let's Worship Sodium!

Over the memorial day weekend a bunch of my church friends and I went to the New Attitude Conference in Louisville Kentucky. Believe it or not, the seven of us drove 12/14 hours there in a minivan! Don't ask me why we did that ... maybe it was to save money, maybe we wanted to bond with each another through suffering, maybe we were just messed up in the brain ... but fortunately we made it there and back in one piece. Even the van had a blast, after the first 200 miles it developed a much more powerful "VvvvrrrrooOOOM" sound when you press on the gas pedal, I guess it was getting excited for the trip as much as we were.

I have a lot of thoughts about the conference, but I'm not going to try to spill it out here. To give you a little taste of what it was like, the catch phrase of the conference was "Like the wheel, the Truth never changes." If you really want to know what that means, go here and embrace the humble orthodoxy. Very simply, it is a conference to call Christians back to the truth of the Gospel, to help us be aware of all the new-age postmodern thought floating out there in the modern church. Sounds pretty interesting, huh?

Well, I'll come back to my thoughts later. Just wanted to let you know I didn't disappear after all. If you want to see some pictures, click here

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