Monday, December 25, 2006
My first Christmas in Hong Kong was rather uneventful, which is all right, because I have been looking forward to some quieter time. Haha... that's not too different from Toronto... I think I slept until the early afternoon last year for Christmas. Haha... at least I got up for lunch today. =p
I actually had NO plans whatsoever this year. The funny thing is that my mom kind of ditched me to go to China with her long-time friends. Well, she invited me, but I didn't want to go with the aunties and uncles... =p
After Christmas eve service yesterday, I went shopping... bought a TV and it'll get delivered later this week. =p I also bought daily household items such as clothes hangers, dish sponges, file folders, etc. and then spent the rest of the day at home. I (kind of) figured out how to work my washing machine and did laundry. All-in-all, it was nice time of quietness in the comfort of my own home. Ended up buying dinner and eating in.
And then in the evening on Christmas eve, I was pleasantly surprised by Ka Po (Sichuan team member last year) who asked me out for lunch on Christmas. It was great to catch up with her, and then I was telling her more about Kong Fok Church (KFC) because I've been to a number of events since I first attended... which is funny because she's the one who introduced me to KFC to begin with, but did not attend any fellowship or small group because she was allocated to the adult (married) womens' group... apparently it was a bad experinece. =p I guess she didn't realize that the cutoff age for "youth" activities was rather high, hahaha... anyway, I'll get her to join the Daniel fellowship/small group I've been attending.
The afternoon of Christmas was spent with a HK Baptist church small group... I know two people there from separate paths. It was a nice time of playing boardgames, however, and unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, however you look at it, I know that I would have a very very hard time fitting into that group... which kind of gives me the comfort in "choosing" KFC as the one where I seek to serve and grow. I look forward to getting my feet wet and getting involved; trying to be patient in that aspect though.
Then, was very pleasantly surprised to meet up with Gabe and Jon tonight, listening to music at Lumiere restaurant... a great place!
All in all, a nice Christmas day. *Shrug* not very eventful, but it is nice to just hang out. =)
At KFC, I very much enjoyed the Christmas Eve service and the Saturday night evangelistic meeting really touched me too. I was very thankful that my mom went with me to that, and though she is not saying she believes, I entrust it to God. I have also been drawn (not *that* way... he has a kid =p) to the pastor there: Pluto. He is absolutely phenomenal and is a wonderful speaker, so funny, very off-the-cuff, and relates well to all the youths within the very wide age range. Despite his very entertaining speech, he is so perceptive and to the point when it matters in people's salvations or in growth of the individuals. I look forward to working with him and seeing my role at the church. Many, many blessings to count...
Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
I am still amazed at how timing has worked over the past few weeks. This Shanghai and Beijing trip happened really last minute for me to accomodate client/audit team needs, at the same time trying to schedule training and other "meeting" times.
The travel plans made me miss the Hong Kong training session for IFRS, which took me a *long* time to get over and let go of. =p At the same time, everyone else has been busy and travelling too, that Chinchin ended up also missing the training and going to Shanghai with me. At the same time, the trip allowed me to have dinner with my UW classmate Karen, and Rick, who moved to Shanghai last year... and more so, they just returned to Shanghai from their vacation on the last evening that I was there (as I was able to switch my flight to fly out on the following morning.) Further, aside from travelling in Beijing with Aida, the Friday morning that I arrived in Beijing was also the last day of "shooting" for Sherrie's movie, and was able to go to their "wrap party" (and other expat bars...) on Friday night. Hahaha...
So, I just sit back and say "wow". Amazing! It's been great to be given the opportunity to travel, meet up with old friends... while arranging my current demands... aside from working through the weekend... but who isn't doing that, it seems, sigh. =p
Chinchin and I managed to get a few hours to walk around in Shanghai -- this is the famous "Bund" area.. the river between historic Shanghai and the new Pudong area. That's where we also picked up a 500g bag of roasted chestnuts.. mmm.... !!
Aida and I went to Tiananmen Square on Sunday before going into the office... Haha, our hotel held wedding receptions on both Saturday and Sunday. Seemed like the "normal" time for the bride and groom to get to the hotel was 10am! Also, instead of showing a blown-up picture of them, one couple had a larger-than-full size posterboard!
And... I must take a picture of the 11 RMB dumplings that we ate for lunch downstairs in the foodcourt! Such good value!!! It's been interesting... especially after chatting with Rick and Karen about their experience with the local peoples. Things are either very very cheap (from our usual standards) or very very expensive, which is kind of sad for the local peoples who would not be able to afford these luxuries that seem to be created for the expats and foreigners [say, a small sushi platter at the Grand Hyatt for RMB 450].
Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
I was in Shanghai for training and was sharing a room with my coworker. [On one hand, E&Y Learning group is really cheap. On the other hand, it was great to spend time with Chinchin so I am thankful after all.] I was washing my face or whatever in the washroom when I saw this and burst out laughing. Chinchin asked if I was okay... what a silly question! Haha... she got used to my (spontaneous bursts of) laughing a little more over the week, (like, throughout the training in bad mandarin) hahaha...
With all this travelling, I am also very thankful that I have not had to travel alone (yet!) It has been great to have good company in Bangkok, Manila (coincidentally another team had a file review at the same time as me.. otherwise, it would have been me on my own), Shanghai, and next, Beijing with Aida. Especially as Chinchin and Aida both speak Mandarin.. haha.. Anyway, this is a good "triage" of Shanghai and Beijing... ;)
Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.
I was in Manila last week for a file review. We need to review audit working paper files of the engagements which we support, so when we travel, we usually go to work at the local E&Y office.
The office at Manila is *old*... well, the city is quite old. The Philippines has an interesting history, having been under various countries' rule and with difficult governments in modern history. It is amazing to think about its past... we stayed at the Peninsula hotel. Imagine how Manila would have been when the hotel was built... and then consider the city now... although great to see its improvement (renovations, etc.) The streets weren't as bad as I expected, although security guards *are* armed with guns and rifles at various locations.
The hospitality of the people are so friendly and the service industry is great. And.. I have never been so happy at a buffet before! I must introduce
Circles buffet at the Shangri-La hotel. (We usually stay there.. but was booked solid so we then went to Peninsula.) I think it's the presentation of the food that makes the place a fun place to eat! Plus, the food is fresh.
The salad bar consists of a "garden" of heads of lettuce on a bed of ice. Whenever you order, the server takes scissors and snips off leaves off of different types of lettuce and greens and places them for you, and does the same with tomatoes and others. So fresh!
Can you imagine, me, liking a buffet?? Haha... That's Manila.. the food is good... and didn't make me sick.. =p
I'll try to take a picture of the buffet the next time... I've got a couple of clients there.. haha
Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.
Monday, November 27, 2006
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Last week I was in Bangkok for training. It involved all new managers in the Far East, so participating countries included China (various offices: Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong), Singapore, Malaysia, Korea, Indonesia, and of course, Thailand.
I actually had gone to the same training last year in Florida, and unfortunately, was kind of critical on the management of this training in the Far East. It's interesting to see the big culture difference between the way it was run and in the participants in general. For example, as part of the training, we all did the Myers-Brigg assessment to understand our preferences. In Asia, the number of introverts far outnumbered the extroverts! The difference between what we would see in North America was interesting... it was interesting to see how the exercises were run because it took a long time before anyone dared to take the step of leadership. Interesting observations. =p
So, my own personal objective for attending the course was to better know the coworkers in my group; five of us went in the Capital Markets Centre (CMC) from Hong Kong, and there was one other CMC manager from Shanghai. It was a lot of fun... the six of us girls hung out all week, and stuck together during classes... kind of causing trouble because many things taught were not relevant to us (as we're not in audit.)
I have had enough thai food for a while now. =p We probably had Tom Yum Kung soup at least 4 times, green curry at least 3 times, fishcakes at least 3 times... also, the food made me sick. On one of the days, my body awakened me at maybe 5 or 6 because I felt nauseous... and ended up throwing up a number of times in the morning. Anyway, it wasn't food poisoning because the reaction was probably 11-12 hours after we had dinner the evening before... so *hopefully*, it was just the general acidity level of the food (I think) that I was not used to it. Anyway, thankfully, I recovered very quickly and by the evening next day, I was eating normally again. But, I haven't been feeling great in Hong Kong this week so will actually go to a doctor... Anyway, I'm generally okay. Just taking some antacids when I don't feel great.
We had some spare time so went around on a couple of the evenings and on the Friday and Saturday. No, we did not go see the transvestites. =p But the society is so open to them that many are in normal employment positions like at the 7/11. We did a lot of shopping, and my friend went crazy at the Chatuchak Weekend Market, which is like the Ladies' Market in Hong Kong, but maybe 100 times bigger. (A HUGE flea market.) And hotter! According to a Hong Kong travel book, spending 20 minutes in each section is like going to the sauna for 20 minutes. Yuck. =p
One evening, we went to the Siam Tower, which I think is a government building + hotel. At the top is a great view of the city with very nice bars. One of the bars was unique in that there are no chairs and tables, just sofabeds. So, this is the 6 crazy girls on the sofa bed!
We have, from left to right, Alva (top), Ina ("eena", bottom), Chinchin, Shirley, Aida, and me.
Alva and Ina are from HK and went to school at the University of Toronto, Chinchin is from Jakarta and went to school in the US (Indiana), Shirley is from Singapore and now in Shanghai, Aida is Taiwanese and went to school in Wisconsin.
Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.
Monday, November 20, 2006
OK, I hardly ever ate McDonald's in Toronto, especially for dinner for staying late at the office (can you imagine?? =p I always had terrible reactions to people who wanted McDonalds.) But.. I really wanted to try the "Fan"tastic burger, which, cleverly, is a burger with the buns made out of rice... and Rice in cantonese is kind of pronounced "fan". So, here is the "Fan"tastic burger and the combo meal that I had. (Yes, that is the official name from McDonald's!)
Yes, corn is an alternative to fries!
Now that I got that out of my system... no more McDonald's... until the new product comes out!
Oh, I forgot... in Bangkok, I had to try the taro pie (highly recommended by my coworker!). It's not available in Hong Kong. It's not bad...! =p
OK, no more McDonald's!
Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Looking forward to this week to meet other people in the firm, spend some time with my coworkers, observe how things work here in the Far East (training is for all new managers in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Beijing...)
Be back in a week!
Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
It is already November, Hallowe'en is passed for a week now... which means that it's time for Christmas decorations to go up!! That's the case everywhere, I'm sure, but they sure are fast here. Major sets have been put up at various spots around the International Finance Centre (IFC) [where my office is located.] Decorations on banisters... larger displays throughout the IFC Mall... fast movers!
I remember Christmas being HUGE two years ago... and I'm sure it will always be huge. What I did not realize, is that Hallowe'en was also HUGE. The amount (and size) of Hallowe'en decorations in Hong Kong were quite incredible. I attach some pictures below:
The big, furry spiders were EVERYWHERE! EVERYWHERE!! Every single Pacific Coffee coffee shop (pic #1)! Sogo (large Japanese department store)! Lan Kwai Fong, HUGE strung up above the street! Even the small lobby to the botanical garden in Hong Kong Park!! (The 2nd and 3rd pics were taken there --- the security guard did give me a weird look as I stepped into the lobby because you're not supposed to take pictures... but it's not like I was taking pictures of plants. And *then*, as I walked up the main staircase and looked up and saw picture #3, where they created the entire web to put the spiders up top, I burst out laughing, and took another picture... hahaha)
Anyway, I do think these spiders are quite ugly... was quite disturbing at Pacific Coffee where one was located right above the milk and sugar. Yuck. =p sadly, it does appear that Hallowe'en is another big event to promote sales no matter where... not really sure how the big spiders fit into that though... but i guess that's just me. =p
Monday, November 06, 2006
It was intersting to go on this trip and do the reading for my course, which was a book that discusses the question, "what is a true missionary encounter with western culture?"
The book analyzes western society as follows - the scientific method has completely taken over the public realm, as evidenced through education. [Consider the hoopla experienced in Philadelphia when "intelligent design" was discussed.] This public sphere consists of the pure facts... what we can observe. Christianity, ever since the separation from the state in the 1800's, has been relegated to the private sphere, the sphere which discusses values and purpose. The problem with Christianity in particular, is that its advocated truths completely conflict with those facts of the private sphere.
However, other eastern religions, do not seemto be so radically conflicting. In fact, they can coexist within the constraints of the observable public sphere... Eastern mythology does not speak of purpose... reincarnation only happens as part of its due course.
This concept was evidenced very clearly to me in China. The strong spirituality of the inner countryside was very scary for me. Although I have seen many temples in different places, perhaps it is because the northwest region of Yunnan is very near Tibet (similar in terrain and obviously, the Jong peoples), which is similar to the strong spirituality of Thai buddhism (I realize I am extremely ignorant of the specifics of buddhism...) I was greatly affected by the spirituality of the land. Quite scary to me. It also really saddened me to see many people, including many on my tour, to pay respects when entering a temple.
I had a discussion with a friend once... when we were going around Hong Kong and visited [Wong Tai Sin] temple in Kowloon... she bowed when entering a room with an idol, and I asked if she believed in it. She said no, but explained it akin to entering someone's home... you say "hi" (or in Chinese culture, you "call" the respective name of the relative). Such a polytheistic acknowledgement was very interesting to me. In North America, it is more atheistic.
History of China
I have always been fascinated by the rich history of China, indeed, the history is so long. Unfortunately, I am not that familiar with the recent history (say, after 1911 when the Communist party started to form). And more unfortunately, a number of the places we visited were during this time period, relating to the grassroots of modern China.
During the debriefing session, it was eye-opening to me to hear about the strong support for the current government. I realize I have a negative attitude towards it, likely from reading of Jan Wong, in terms my disapproval of their religious non-freedoms, and of many, many extant negative sterotypes. It is undeniable, however, to remark on the economic success of the country (consider the ICBC IPO last week, haha, too bad E&Y is the "reporting accountants"), and to remark on the evidenced social developments. Even something like promoting education within a small region of Zhaojue to provide the very poor Yi youth with practical skills to make a living... the gradual opening up of the western regions... the government is clearly taking strides. And even as I mentioned about recycling, the Chinese government has moved much faster than Hong Kong in this respect. Hearing about the government's recent efforts in cracking down on corruption is also encouraging. Obviously, all governments have their strengths and faults, for, governments are only made up of very-broken people not dissimilar from any of us. But, I'll leave my thought as "eye-opening", as I realize it will take some time to not take anything with a grain of salt, but a truly negative stereotype is also unfair, and that I now realize.
So, I will just leave this off with some preliminary thoughts... something to observe in the near future... how will the Chinese people react to economic successes? I go back to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, as, historically, it was arguable as to whether physical and security needs were met. Now that they are, how will they progress towards self-actualization? Something, arguably, that western culture has been grappling with. The observable shift from the industrial age to a society that weeks for work-life balance, of health and well-being... of purpose?
Friday, November 03, 2006
Although the trip was boring at times (in effect, I went on a trip with a lot of "aunties" and "uncles"...) it was a good time of reflection. There was nothing to do in the evening so I actually went to bed early sometimes! (I roomed with my aunt.) I also was able to complete my reading for my course. As this trip was organized by that NPO, they had a debriefing session on the last day. It was interesting to hear different perspectives and reflections of other people. Many of my reflections which were echoed, even if not necessarily from the same world-viewpoint.
This is quite a nice city. It's a relatively smaller city, similar to Chengdu where I went last year. Although traffic in China will inevitably be crazy for the near-term, it was still good to see that it wasn't *CRAZY*, in a way reflecting the general level of education of the public... in terms of following rules and whatnot. I was also very very impressed that every single garbage can had a dual bin, one for garbage and one for recyclables. Maybe the policies of Yunnan province were generally like that... the cities in general were very ecologically conscious.
Minority peoples in China
Minority peoples is probably one of the distinguishing characteristics of Yunnan province. Out of China's 52(?) minority peoples, 26 (I think) are in Yunnan province alone. So, along our tour, we learned a lot about the dominant ones: Bai, Miao, Jong... Probably in conjunction with the surging tourism in Yunnan (more on that below), it was great to see the pride of each minority people as each tourguide aimed to share about his or her own peoples. It is encouraging to see government policy encouraging the promotion of the uniqueness of each minority. I also know that the government aims to promote development of minority peoples through the few programs I know from MSI.
An interesting thing, also, is that of our three tourguides, two of them were mixed between different minority groups (NaXi and Miao, Jong and Miao), which is an indicator of openness rather than prideful esotericism or of rivalries.
The prime example is LiJiang. Since the discovery of the town, tourism has taken over. [DaLi was more industrial to begin with, so had its own in sources of economy.] The tourguide mentioned that tourism funds about 80% of the economy, an increase from 20%. Just incredible. The Jong minority tourguide for Shangri-La used to be a teacher... and then changed to the tourguide profession as it was more lucrative.
A thriving economy is always a good sign in terms of funding towards social development. At the same time, when it comes to such rapid economic growth, it is inevitable that there will be increasing income gaps between the "have's" and "have not's"...
Drove to Shangri-La - cold and far place, populated mainly by the Jong [i.e., Tibetan] peoples... up to 3800m of height... toured yet another historic town. Got an amusing chance to practise my broken, broken French which i have not yet spoken since high school. Was kicking myself because I couldn't remember the word for "cow" until near the end of the conversation... [ahh...vache! so sad...] Was pretty funny translating between Mandarin [the French lady actually looked up various pinyin], Cantonese [didn't know what she was referring to.. had to ask parents], and French, of course, in my head everything is in English...
Drove to the National Park - This is the first national park that china preserved. It was really nice... high in the mountains (>4000m) that it was quite scary for those who were not as physically fit (otherwise may get altitude sickness). I was pretty scared for my dad as he has high blood pressure... thankfully, everyone made it through, especially as everyone knew each other to support. Good thing we also got small oxygen tanks just in case (35 RMB for about 10 minutes, supposedly). I have shared this before, but the toilets here were GREAT. They are so clean and did not smell... and seem to be pretty hygienic (think Chicago airport toilets which have a plastic covering over the seat and is replaced for each person). This was a different system but similar concept. Seriously, was so impressed!! Definitely many times better than the ones at Yosemite, which I remember my travelling buddy saying "ho chau ah... ho chau ah..." (it smells.. it smells). hahahhaa.
Fly back to Kunming to visit another cultural/historical exhibit and other places (silk factory, pu er tea place). I did buy something afterall (my parents went crazy...) ... but something useful! A silk blanket... since I'll need a blanket after all!
Flew back to Hong Kong... was very happy to be... "home"?
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Drove from DaLi to LiJiang and area - Another historic area, discovered after 1996 when a 7.0-earthquake shook the area, and then was protected by Unesco as a world heritage site.
The historic town itself very pretty, apparently well-positioned and designed when it was originally designed by the then-"urban" planners. A lot of [bai] peoples are there. Now, LiJiang is transformed into a bustling tourism environment. Tourists get a kick out of the "bar street" where it is a line of bars and every night, the local minority peoples sing "dueling songs". The minority groups are all known for their local vocal music... so singing is a very big thing. Saw a local show to introduce colours and costumes of the minority peoples, not too bad.
Went to visit a park in order to catch a glimpse of the "jade dragon snowy mountain". This mountain is mysterious because it is snow-capped, yet, because it is so high, the clouds always cover it... the tourguide indicated that out of the year, you can only see the snow a third of the time. Unfortunately, it was raining and cold when we went... didn't see the snow. [Of course, seeing snow-capped mountains is a BIG deal for people from Hong Kong...]
Went to a popular beautiful park by the city. A lot of locals go there for a morning exercise or walk.
We met this old 87 year old woman doing exercises. They are in good shape!!
It's been a couple of weeks since I've visited China, so, finally, here are some of my experiences. I went with my parents and my aunt. We joined this tour with my mom's old childhood friend, who went on this trip with a large not-for-profit organization that she was involved with. [My mom was also very involved with it back in the day.] The organization actually had an objective to promote cultural exchanges, so we visited a lot of cultural and historic memorials. Also, everyone on the tour pretty much knew everyone else (except for my family), which probably made for a generally better tour than otherwise.
Rundown of the tour:
Fly to Kunming from Hong Kong, toured a historic event memorial, had dinner, and stayed for the night. It was much cooler than expected! Thankfully, no one got sick (it was ~14 degrees and felt much cooler because it was rainy... but we were wearing our Hong Kong clothes).
Drove to DaLi (~ 4-6 hours??) - An economically thriving city in Yunnan. Three attractions: (1) a traditional (rather wealthy) "Bai" people's house, very decorative, beautiful stones. The natural stone design paintings were very nice. (2) The three towers temple. Because of the economic wealth, the temple area was completely renovated. Amazing greenery surrounding it. (3) A historic market [recurring theme =p]
I thought these gigantic incenses were pretty funny. =p
My mom wanted a picture with all the monks, haha
Friday, October 06, 2006
Recital - September 10
Departure - October 1
Now - October 7
The recital was great, beyond my expectation [true, I generally have no expectations for many things]. Despite my terrible piano playing, it was just fun to share about me, to just be myself! It was great to have so much support and helpers... it was great to have everyone work together [thanks for dealing with my last minute stressing, my general last-minute everything, and non-detail-orientedness! ;)] in order to make everything run as smooth as it did. Hopefully, people enjoyed themselves too! Overall, I hope it was clear that this move to Hong Kong was a long time in coming, and to me, God had paved the way to make things happen with a great job opportunity, a good time in my life and in my career, all motivated by various things including the objective to improve my Chinese, catch a glimpse of the booming Asian economy, and to participate in other professional services trips into China. I'm also affirmed by other things such as starting work with Ray, who will also be based out of Hong Kong for now and having another co-worker from Toronto join the same group as me. It has been amazing how things have panned out over the past couple of years, including having waited until now.
Further, I am simply reminded of the nature of the community of believers... thankful that through different social circles, there still exists a spiritual and eternal bond between us. I am so thankful for being blessed by so many people who have played a part in my life, in building up who I am.
Then, after the recital, it was a mission to clear out my room and get rid of any nonessentials! The beneficiary [if you can call it that ;)] of my old CA magazines was Agincourt Collegiate Institute! It was funny to visit and see a couple of old teachers who were still there (although, retiring by end of this year). I saw my old calculus and algebra teacher, Mrs. Chow, who was known to be the hardest [and of course, because I had her for both subjects, I was called "double Chow girl" as an affectionate pitying name. haha...] It was just funny to hear her teach her current class with the same tone and same lines as before ["I want you to reduce the radicals to the *general* form! *General* form!"] Too bad my old accounting teacher wasn't in!
I was able to adequately clean out my room (and pack) in good time... my old clothes will go to the Salvation Army, and all that's left in my room are mainly books, my old notes, and various stuffed animals! I also successfully re-archived my old greeting cards, which was a painful exercise of anal attentiveness. The exercise was also nostalgic as I read over various cards from different points of time in my life... one distinct phrase was for my baptism in 2000, "...if we've had an effect on your life, it's because you let us." That is how I feel in response to the many encouragements that I have received for my going away...
Then, leading up to October 1, it was a rush to finish off as much work as I could while meeting up with people, including good times of prayer. I took various days and timeslots off, but ended up going into the office on Friday, September 29, which probably wasn't the wisest thing to do. =p Oh well, I did as much as I could...! [And fortunately (or unfortunately), I care soo much about work. =p]
Now, it has been a nice time of doing nothing at all in Hong Kong! Nothing really tourist-y, good family time with my parents... funny to meet up with my mom's old friends (they left 30 years ago and have only been back 2 or 3 times) and be a good daughter, haha. No shopping yet either!
Today is the mid-autumn festival celebration and had a family dinner with my aunt and her sons.. and their kids. Came back up to the apartment after dinner for some taro (a traditional thing??), mooncake and fruit. She has a nice view to a park on her balcony... take a look at all the kids playing with electronic lights instead of lanterns [this was taken at 11pm so it was cleared out already]! Because of the danger of kids playing with fire, wax burning is now prohibited everywhere. [Now, it is 12:45am, and I *still* hear kids running around outside... ah... Chinese families, haha!]
Waking up early for another day with the Yam (or, Yan) extended family...
Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
It's been a good summer. *Kind of* makes up a *little bit* for the busy year that I've had, basically from last September to June, with a slight break in January. =p
So, the much-anticipated recital has come and gone. It's amazing how God is faithful; it turned out way beyond my expectations... only by God's grace, especially considering how much effort I put in. =p Perhaps, though, seeds may have been planted? All entrusted to Him...
Finally, today, I had a little bit of resolve to start cleaning my room and packing things into boxes. I guess I have more books than I thought [I am majorly "spatially challenged" --> cannot estimate if a certain volume can fit into a box. =p] But, it's starting to kind of shape up, and I think I have finally come to terms that I will never look at my CA magazines ever again to give them away. Why am I such a pack-rat??
I also found two years worth of "golden bricks" way back from high school fellowship. Golden bricks were simply encouragement notes that we wrote to each other at our winter snow camp. The first year was my first year attending church (not sure if I actually accepted Jesus Christ by then) and I didn't really know the rest of them. It's funny how I've grown since those days of "You don't talk much do you." "You are so quiet!" A very respectful one was to Gladys, "my silent but honourable friend". Hahaha..
The second year was more meaningful after I started building some relationships... it's cool to read back on those encouragements. By then, I had accepted Christ and was serving in various capacities. It's also amazing how the Holy Spirit works in the provision of spiritual gifts. Yes, spiritual gifts are developed and matured over time, but reading back on these notes from ?? years ago also kind of affirmed what I believe are my spiritual gifts now. And, it demonstrates to me that the spiritual gifts were definitely provided to me... especially for someone who didn't speak at all a year before that! =p God is good. All right, maybe I'll keep these notes for another 10 years or so. =p
Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.
Sunday, August 13, 2006
Probably, if I were to characterize the year by a Bible verse, the above verse would stick out in my mind the most. Not that I necessarily engage in such annual characterizations, but I was obviously reminded this year by a friend of my "likely last birthday in Canada" -- at least for the near term. I leave it open as to where I will be in the long term.
Annually, though, I *do* take a step back and stand in awe of the abundance of blessings that have been showered on my life. And annually (especially documented since 2002... some years more elaborate than others =p), the theme recurs -- of praise and thanksgiving to God for the blessing of a community that is bound together in Christ.
I echo my sentiments from 2004 as I see that by God's grace, he has expanded this small band, "Despite being in all different years, I consider them all to be peers whom I admire and strive to embody their various virtues. It is our peers who walk alongside and pick us up when we need it, yet, understand the trek while we are walking it, unlike mentors or other authoritative people who have walked ahead of us." It is evident that I have continued to seek for that which is real... real friendships... real people... real life... what is the real me?
This year has been an interesting discovery into the "real", through challenges in seminary, looking at behavioural experiences in the corporate environment, and through encouragements from brothers and sisters in Christ, I have seen a slight maturation of understanding... and I thank God for giving me the opportunity to experience my real struggles and insecurities, only with the support of so many real people. But not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. [Phillippians 3:12] Today's Sunday sermon also validated this challenge with much timeliness -- to dig through the illusory and temporal things of this world in search of the real... which is also lasting.
No doubt these reflections have been likely catalyzed by my preparations to relocate, and I realize the significance of the move is (finally) starting to hit me... I look forward to sharing my reflections before the time comes, and afterwards for those who wish to keep tabs on me ;). On the other hand, perhaps with age, maybe I'm just reflecting all over the place in too many abstract ways, haha.
Thanks for sharing in a truly fruitful year... to help me continually see God in so many ways. Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Saturday, August 05, 2006
Sigh sigh sigh... I've been extremely conflicted lately about this recital date, and likely stemming from a lack of prep and a hasty move of the date the first time, I've been thinking about moving it again to September 10... which would have been better if I had just moved it there the first time. =p
Will keep you updated..
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
The most striking observation for many people (including myself) is that there are a lot of Asians in Hawaii. Although they're not all Chinese, walking around the city (non-tourist areas) does feel like walking around in First Markham Place.
Although there may be an "assumed look" of a Hawaiian, it's interesting to trace their ancestry because the history of the island is not extremely old. And, being volcanically formed islands, there are no indigenous peoples. Apparently, the first inhabitants may have come from the nearby Marquesas islands... but I don't know about the details tracing back. There are, however, many many Asians who settle there from all over (which is why whenever we're served at a restaurant, they assumed we were Japanese... I think because there are many Japanese tourists, but also many locals). A number of locals that we met were always mixed... Filipino and Chinese, or mix from Vietnam, etc... and so, maybe within these lifetimes, there may not be a "predominant race" in Hawaii.
Which led me to think... will heaven embody this aspect? From a humanistic point of view, the mixing of gene pools is a good thing. =p As cultures develop, with world travel, etc. there will be less and less pure peoples.
I mean, in Genesis 11, peoples were spread out as a result of their sin... as a result of the separation, peoples and nations developed... would heaven, with the defeat of sin, result in a merger of sorts? Hm...
Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Sunday, July 02, 2006
You can read more details of our vacation on Ina's vacation blog.
It has been a very restful and sun-filled vacation -- a lot more sun than i would have liked, but oh well... that's why we come to Hawaii, i suppose! I kind of burned my legs, which is very very surprising because my legs don't easily tan at all. I need to compare the skin tone of my face before and after this trip. I'll be using my whitening mask often enough after I get back. =p
Ina and I are enjoying our last restful day in Honolulu before going to San Francisco / San Jose for a couple of days before returning back to Toronto. (Janey left yeserday evening.) We attended took the bus to church this morning at Kapahulu Bible Church (we searched for churches last night), a small congregation not too far away from our hotel. It was a nice and simple service, but very pleasantly refreshing to worship God (on land -- there was no service on the cruise) in his house. It's always a comforting reminder that Christ prepares a community for his believers (I've been trying to get through Cost of Discipleship), although his call to us and our response is an individual journey.
The main reflection of this trip is definitely the awesomeness of God's creation. Hawaii is an amazing chain of volcanic islands, and it's fascinating to learn about the geological and anthropological history of the now American state. The terrain of the islands is beautiful with mountains, valleys, and many varieties of plants and trees. It's amazing to realize that these islands were created via the lava flow of volcanoes... the lava which destroyed all life standing in its path on eruption was the mechanism for much new life. And the ground that is formed from this destructive lava is very rich in mineral content, providing noursihment for all the future life living on it. Amazing...
Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.
Sunday, June 18, 2006
Before I go, I'll follow up on a promise (quite a while ago) to blog about JEDP. [As an aside, I really do miss the Tyndale classes which were mentally, spiritually, and even emotionally stimulating. However, I'm thankful for the small opportunities here and there that allow me to do the same thing on an informal basis...]
You can easily read more into JEDP at Wikipedia. However, as a summary, as part of biblical research, there is a study called "documentary hypothesis". The Documentary Hypothesis studies how the Bible came into its final form, especially focusing on the Jewish Torah, also known as the Pentateuch of the Bible -- the first five books. Although the Pentateuch is generally attributed to the hand of Moses, the hypothesis proposes that there were four "root" sources: the Jahwist (J), Elohist (E), Deuteronomist (D) and the Priestly (P) sources. These four sources had their own writings and collections, and finally, some redactor (or, editor, but academically referred to "R") took pieces of each of J, E, D, and P, and put together what is known now as the Pentateuch.
Researchers have come up with this hypothesis as a result of different and unique styles that occur throughout the Pentateuch, most prominently through the words used to describe God (hence their names) and other foci for each of the four sources.
Anyway, I won't explain too much more... the documentary hypothesis isn't studied that much anymore -- it is more of a "modernist" approach starting during the mid-to-late 1800's. Whereas it is interesting to dig into the possible sources of each studied text, the more "postmodern" approaches take the Bible as a text as it is presented in its final form [what we generally do now]. Many older Bible commentaries will, however, go into the nuances of each JEDP source for each verse -- and that was what I was sifting through for my assignment on Exodus 1-15.
So... other than getting some much needed rest from work, I hope the vacation does give rise to some reflection time; probably not difficult at all as we take in some views of God's amazing creation.
Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.
Thursday, June 01, 2006
Saturday, May 13, 2006
Can't believe it's already mid-May... although *can* believe that I have not yet opened my CFA materials!
It has still been busy, although I'm glad that I've been generally in a good mood likely because I was able to make it out to Ultimate (although terribly late...) and because of the teams that I've been working with lately. Next fieldwork starts in two weeks... it all keeps on coming.
But thank God for carrying me through... I desperately need him... by His grace.
Monday, April 24, 2006
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Hm.. let's go back in time to May 29, 2002:
What *is* it about balance that we strive to achieve it? We (should?) strive to balance our diet, balance our time, balance our life. (Not to mention balance our chequebook; how fitting that I'm an accountant. =P)
OR, is it worth striving for at all? Does balance lead to mediocrity across the board and lack of excellence in any particular area?
I always thought it interesting that "balance" is such an oft-used word (or, maybe, just by me =p) mainly because we know that extremes are dangerous. I think the word merely expresses the recognition that we cannot *be* on any extreme -- the ideal position is *somewhere* in between extremes. [I'm not talking about black/white or right/wrong issues here...] So, the accounting illustration is another simple illustration of the pull between the two extremes...
Last term in Biblical Interpretation, the prof was developing a model for interpretation that recognizes the meanings that are inherent in the text (including the historicity of the text, original audience, etc. but also relating to the textual characteristics such as narratives, poetry, etc.) but the significance that we read as a reader. Therefore, the person sitting beside me could take away different things out of the text... of course, on the extreme, one can argue that the Bible could then have an infinite different definitions. Of course, that does not make sense (especially if we were to go into the realm of heresy), so that's where the role of the Holy Spirit comes into play.
As Christians, we have the Holy Spirit that has changed us such that we strive to be:
- God-fearing [one who correctly handles the word of truth (2 Tim 2:15)],
- Bible-believing [believe that the Bible is God-breathed (2 Tim 3:16)], and
- faith-seeking-understanding [we do not believe in Christ because we gain a full understanding, rather, growth in our faith increases our understanding (Acts 17:11)] followers of Christ...
Therefore, as we truly seek to understand God's word, the Holy Spirit keeps us from going to extremes between being totally subjective and totally historical. You may call it a healthy tension, and this healthy tension is good because it keeps us from going to either extreme.
So, with this general, overall model, I draw parallels to all aspects of life, where we are faced with many opposing tensions that pull us on either side. So, with all tensions, we can be pulled more to one side at one moment, but then get pulled to the other... is that necessarily healthy? Recognizing that the tension is a dynamic one, we did see the challenge as finding a certain point of sustainability between the two -- that, to me, is a more precise articulation of what I was seeking to say back in 2002. So, for example, in terms of my sleeping patterns, what is my sustainable point? I can survive on five hours all week but then will "crash" on the weekend... that's not necessarily a sustainable point. =p I actually think I need 7 hours but haven't been able to figure how to implement that one yet. =p
Anyway, so, there's no *real* change in the name of my blog, just a more precise articulation of the dynamics of the process throughout life =p
Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.
Friday, April 14, 2006
I seriously think that if it were not for Tyndale class this term, I would have had a nervous breakdown already due to stress from work! (Sigh..) I am very thankful for the class as it constantly encourages and challenges me to think about my faith and how I integrate it into my life, how I think about the world and the "order" of things -- and my place within it all. The course has been very enriching and stimulating; it has truly renewed me... and I am so very thankful for this. I was thinking back to a year or two ago, again at busy season, and remember feeling very stagnant and sluggish -- never really *thinking* about anything of substance... so this year has been an answered prayer.
I was trying to determine when I used to feel that way by reviewing my old blog entries... it's so funny to read about those select points over a period of a year or two in a few minutes! Now that I've been through two Tyndale courses, I cannot imagine what I used to do when I studied for those Certified Business Valuator courses and the CFA because I had/have zero passion for those studies. [On the other hand, I can't believe how busy I am now compared to when I used to have time to study for additional exams...]
But, I guess my overall point is, I am thankful that God has totally renewed my thinking and transformed my mind through the courses. I am thankful to be empassioned with these studies and to apply (or "appropriate": a-pro-pri-ehte) them into the rest of my life and share it with those around me. I'm not sure I can really go back to studying other business-related courses that I don't really care about [even though I already knew I did not have such passion before when I wrote those exams...]
I often say, "motivation is an interesting thing". Interesting because we often need and seek it, but don't know where to find it. How do some people have such a strong internal drive? Is it possible for external influences to trigger or stimulate our motivation? How do we "force" ourselves to be motivated to accomplish something which we do not care about?
Haha... so now, I'm debating if I want to study for CFA. =p
Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.
Sunday, March 26, 2006
For now, I leave you with a "reading response" from class. It's a personal response of an article.. and I realize you have not read the article! But, I just see this response as an expression of how I see similarities between Accounting and Theology (or basically, the application of Christian principles) [sorry, it's long, but I *do* find it interesting =p]. I'll supplement if people don't understand...
After having taken Biblical Interpretation (BIBL0501) at Tyndale last term, the majority of the discussions presented by Silva were not new for me. I thought his article very thoroughly and systematically presented the issues surrounding the development of biblical interpretation from the historical-critical method, to the autonomy of the text, and finally to the role of the reader.
I am going to continue my response by drawing parallels from Silva’s discussion to my area of expertise and vocation: the field of Accounting. I enjoy the study of accounting very much because I see a similar process to that of Theology; in Accounting, there is a pool of technical guidance akin to the “Bible” – generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). In Canada, GAAP is mainly governed by the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accounts (CICA) Handbook. When businesses perform transactions, accountants look to GAAP for guidance and interpret it to apply the principles in order to ultimately conclude on a numerical analysis. However, as technical and objective accounting may seem, I realize how subjective it can really be.
All advanced accounting students in University will take courses called “accounting theory” whereby the general framework of GAAP is laid out. There are two fundamental extremes: reliability – where a financial number is determined based on objective evidence, or relevance – the information value portrayed by that financial number. For example, when a company purchases or builds a building, they will pay an original cost, say, $1 million – this is a reliable figure, based on objective evidence (say, cash payment). After 10 years, the value of the building will decrease due to age or required repairs. What is the relevance of this figure? The building is hardly worth $1 million after 10 years of age. How should the company present this value on their financial statements? It would even be misleading to present the then-reliable figure of $1 million; this number is now not relevant. To get into some technical detail, the accounting industry has developed methods to approximate the decrease in value over time, for example, decreasing the value every year on a straight-line basis over the useful life (say, 20 years) of the building. After 10 years, we say the building is worth $500,000. Clearly, this is only an estimate – not very reliable – but it is more relevant.
The accounting industry, in conjunction with the world markets, has found a methodical medium between the two extremes by developing such methods to approximate relevant figures. Still, there are many areas of contention. Similar to the world of biblical interpretation, it is interesting to see how accounting principles have progressed over the past five years. Understandably, the world markets see the difficulties in producing purely relevant financial statements – there would be too much subjectivity and the result would be companies issuing financial statements that may be outrageously optimistic without basis. Unfortunately, the world of accounting does not have a Holy Spirit to keep the tension in check! But, an estimated “reliability” is not necessarily a better solution.
To go back to Silva’s article, he expresses my sentiments exactly on page 112 in discussing the progression towards reader-response theories, “To a practitioner of the historical method, it is simply shocking to hear that eisegesis may be a permissible – let alone the preferable! – way to approach the text.” To all Bible students, we must have heard countless times of the dangers of eisegesis. However, as I better understand the current environment, coupled with my understanding of relevance for readers of financial statements (would you invest in a company that only has their original costs on their financial statements?), it is clear that the purpose of a text is to effectively communicate an intelligible message that requires a response (pg. 121).
Thursday, March 09, 2006
Trying to really get into the richness of Exodus 1 to 15, the subject of our upcoming assignment. I'll see how fast I can write up this essay! Haha, meanwhile, I'm trying to drink of "God as the redeemer God"...
An aside on the mechanics of (Biblical) interpretation -- with reference to the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe movie, which I thoroughly enjoyed!
All in all the movie was pretty true to the book, which is not *too* much a surprise as I'm sure it was quite a long journey for the producers to get the movie rights to begin with. Overall there were two things that I've wanted to blog about, ever since watching the movie way back when...
Whereas it was generally true to the book, the love of Aslan's sacrifice was only mentioned once -- and that in mockery by the white witch ["You call this.. love??"]. For those who do not know the story, I wonder if they understood the full impact of his sacrifice. For me, armed with a "pre-understanding" of the symbolic imageries, I found myself to be unexpectedly emotionally wrought, naturally drawing parallels with the extent of one man's own human and bodily sacrifice in the Passion of the Christ. Perhaps it was more effective that this was a children's movie portraying a brutal sacrifice of a noble lion -- which brought me down in worship.
The second item that I thought about was as a geeky student of biblical interpretation. BEWARE the dangers of interpretation by only looking at the level of the text (or, if you will, the "world of the text!) The white witch neglected to interpret the "world behind the text and her interpretation proved to be imcomplete, leading her to misapply, to her detriment! Aslan also did not forget the "world in front of the text as he understood the implications for himself!
Haha... anyway, back to the Bible commentary... and trying to determine whether I should consider the differences of JEDP. ;)
Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.
Thursday, March 02, 2006
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
|You Should Get a MD (Doctor of Medicine)|
You're both compassionate and brilliant - a rare combination.
You were born to be a doctor.
Maybe I'll get around to it after I do an M.Div... haha... right.
Sunday, February 05, 2006
On this topic, would it be a reasonable assumption that we (as participants in this discussion, even if just in thought) are using "judge" as synonymous to "rebuke", and that we are not using "judge" in the "Divine Judge" sense? [as in to clarify, that we are communicating with a communal belief that we know we are not to judge as God judges and will (ultimately) judge] -- rather than to discuss semantics of those words...
But another question is -- what does rebuke mean?
Checking "rebuke" in Strong's concordance...
In the Greek, occurrences of rebuke as "elegcho" in Greek [Strong's G1651] have been used as "rebuke", "reprove", "expose", "convict", or "fault". I find it extremely interesting that a modern dictionary for "reprove" indicates gentleness or with kind intent. Rebuke doesn't, on the other hand. It's interesting that this instance of rebuke appears practically always in the context of Christian teaching, discipleship, and mutual edification.
Even more interesting is that the occurrences of "epitimao" [Strong's G2008] in Greek is largely used as "rebuke" or "charged" -- and primarily by Jesus only. There were only two instances when the word was not associated with Jesus speaking, and that's when Jesus' disciples started rebuking the crowd when everyone wanted to bring their babies so that Jesus could touch them, and bless them [Mark 10:13 and Luke 18:15 -- same incidence in both gospels], and the second instance was one robber rebuking the other robber as they were being crucified by Jesus.
Clearly, in the Greek, there is a difference even in the single English translated term "rebuke", essentially as his position as the Judge. In any case, I don't think we're disputing this... it's just so interesting!
Anyway, perhaps we are segregating among components of questions, for example:
- are we questioning people's hearts in the act of rebuking others?
- are we discerning among acceptable and unacceptable communication styles; since, what we encounter as the one who is communicated to may feel a different response than originally intended...
- and with a realization of potential misunderstandings, should a rebuker realize an ineffectiveness that may come with a "thou shalt be this way" attitude (or at least, the perception of this attitude even if it's not there)?
On the question of grounds... I think the short answer is Ephesians 5:21 -- of mutual submission. Interestingly, Ephesians 5:21 in the NASB is a direct continuation (rather than a new sentence and hence thought) from the previous passage and thought (pericope), and the G1651 "rebuke" is used as "expose" in Ephesians 5:11 and 13. [It's another interesting discussion on the translator's interpretation of the placement of Ephesians 5:21. ; )]
But some other instances of G1651 rebuke are:
Titus 1:9 - refuting those who contradict sound doctrine
Titus 2:15 - The truth of the gospel / grace of God will reprove with authority.
Matthew 18:15 - showing a brother his fault
1 Timothy 5:20 - a public rebuke against sin -- as a deterrent for others
But I am reminded by recent discussions and by Pastor Daniel's sermon today... that we are all fallen and inadequate... made to be righteous, was tainted by sin, was made righteous again, and by the grace of God... He continues to make us righteous in sanctification. And as all of us, who are God-fearing, Bible-believing, and faith-seeking-understanding followers of Christ... we do need each other as we work out our faith.
Do we all have moral authority? Yes. Do we all need to submit to it? Yes as well! Will we get a more positive response if we're harsher or gentler? Depends on who you're talking to! Are people more responsive to gentle rebukes? Probably!
I like the translation of G1651 into "convict" because it reminds me that we're used as messengers of the Spirit. Ultimately, it is the Spirit that convicts us of our sin... and it is the Spirit that convicts us to approach people of sin. But this conviction to approach people would also convict ourselves.
Nice discussion topic -- to make me think -- even if I didn't necessarily answer anything... it is so amazing to study the Word of God. Thanks. =)
Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
Unfortunately, I feel a little sick, which led me to initiate my "smother" process. Actually, the train ride from Connecticut to the airport and the 3 hour delay was perhaps timely in this respect, giving me some nice quiet time to do some reading and reflection. I got through half of Bonhoeffer's "Life Together" which was a reflective read. I'm feeling better now, although I only realize now how much it hurt to talk -- after not talking for half a day. Think i'll try to refrain from speaking as much as possible for the next couple of days. =p
It's a new year, a new beginning, with many things to clean up from before, in all aspects, [enjoyed service on New Year's] and I'm looking forward to all of small group, work, friends and family, including those whom I missed last week.
Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.