Sunday, December 30, 2007

Congratulations George and Sarah!!

Some fun pictures from the two days over two weekends ceremony. Reflections to come later -- It was a beautiful wedding -- with great memories of John Rutter's "For the Beauty of the Earth" accompanying the processional. It's incredible how I can now praise with the lyrics of that song and melody instead of simply being a choir song sung from elementary school. Praise him for the beauty of his love!

The family with the flower girl, ringbearer, and Bible bearers!

Sunday, December 23, 2007


這個禮拜可能是我一年最忙的一個禮拜... 或者只是我應該最累的禮拜...

認識我的朋友都知道若我去到'哎救命'的地步都已經比一般人忙得多. 不過,雖然這個禮拜可能沒有多睡覺的時閒又有很多任務要完成,很感謝神真的有賜足夠力量和精神給我,也很感謝今天也有空去睡覺多一點!

Anyway, I enjoy Chinese -- it's a better wallow language. Haha. Maybe I've been tired and therefore emotional because of everything that seems to be on my plate, I also know that I'm emotional and therefore I'm just thirsting for God more (well, I suppose it's circular.)

Some of the things on my mind (across some blogs):

Christmas. This must-sing Chinese worship song really touches me [though it's not really a praise song... it's structured as a series of rhetorical questions], nonetheless, the words ring very true to my heart, especially in this incredible (commercial) bustling city of Hong Kong.

誰是主角 Who's the star (main character)?

在這燈飾璀燦都市中,耀眼燈飾彷似千串夢,In this city full of lights,
凝視每串夢裡的景緻,晚空裡飄送,but the sight of lights fade into the air
誰是這節日裡的主角?你懂不懂? Who is the main character, do you understand?

萬闕歌聲喧染都市中,沒有一首可以稱與頌 Lots of music covers the city, but none is of worship
旋律佈滿玩笑的音韻,晚空裡飄送,The frequencies play many happy notes, disappear into the air
誰是這節日裡的主角?誰又會懂?Who is the main character, who will understand?

他身穿紅衣,還是身穿粗衣麻布? He wears a red suit or just some coarse wraps?
他靜靜降生人世,還是以雪車到步? He quietly descended to the world or came in a sleigh?
他輕聲溜走,還是應許一生懷抱? He silently departed, or promised a life of love?
他賜予百千玩意,還是賜與眾恩典到老? He gives thousands of toys, or promises eternal grace?

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is born,
and the government will be on his shoulders,
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
-- Isaiah 9:6

Merry Christmas to you!

Monday, December 10, 2007

One more course down...

I'm actually not a good multi-tasker at all (any more?). Or, perhaps since coming to Hong Kong, I think I much more easily get distracted that my focus has gone down. So, though I knew my last assignment wouldn't be too difficult to do (since I've prepped for a while up until the actual *writing* of it), it has been looming over my head over the past few weeks that it has affected my productivity in all other areas. Just a few months ago, I was getting quite restless, and then of course, everything came at once and made me really overwhelmed (my assignment did the most to that.)

However, now that that is over, I can move onto the next thing... the HKICPA exams. Um, that's in two weeks and I don't even have study materials yet... got to figure that out.

So, I suppose everything that has come down on me caused me some emotional stress, which means that I realize I need God so much more, so, spiritually, it has been trying at times but God is always good. Thankful for fellowship and prayer, always.

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I thought this was pretty cool... [linked from my Tyndale course.]

Monday, November 26, 2007

On the 40th day of Christmas...

OK, i guess the decorations only *started* to go up on November 15, but it seemed substantial enough that it felt like the countdown to Christmas was a full 40 days. Since there is no Thanksgiving holiday break here, it seems like 2 weeks was adequate break after Hallowe'en before the next batch of major decorations.

Though I do like Christmas music (especially hymns in a contemporary style), going to some malls is pretty annoying when they have the annoying children's voices of songs like "All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth" or "I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus" (if you know which recording I'm talking about).

[IFC Mall, Central]

[Telford Gardens, Kowloon Bay]

On an aside, despite the overdone consumerism that is found here, I don't know if it's better than total censure of all Christian foundations of this holiday season... I shared about the politically correct nature imposed onto teachers back home, and a comment was made that it seems even worse than China in that respect of censure... scarily, and sadly, quite true.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Finally, it was time to change the links in my template...

The weather has cooled down a bit, that it's actually really nice out! Which is why Chung Yeung Festival last Friday was a big day for campers, and our fellowship took the chance to go on a retreat too! Nothing very heavy, just an opportunity to get away and have some sharing... it was very nice. The nice thing about retreats here is that you can get away to rural places just a ferry ride away. And when you're there, you can still find seafood 'midnight snack', which is built into the schedule. hahaha

Everything has picked up all of a sudden. I guess it's about time, in many ways, I was feeling quite restless before in wanting to get involved (with everything... I remembered at the beginning of last year I was bored with work that I even thought about investment banking -- which of course is very myopic and stupid to think like that).

Work, church, Tyndale course, visitors to HK (including my parents) and then... Hong Kong CPA aptitude test?? That will be late December. :P

But most importantly, on top of that, it has been very fruitful in terms of personal Bible study, whether at fellowship, personal (almost finished Acts after a year!!), Sunday School... it has been an interesting self-reflection of where I have 'moved' (hopefully, progressed?) in my hermeneutical spiral toward the Scriptures.

As we cultivate our theological garden...

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Monday, October 01, 2007


I'm still around in Hong Kong! Actually, other than the immediate trip to Beijing, I haven't had to travel at all for the past 3 weeks (until tomorrow :P) It's been a whirlwind. Of course, Toronto was a whirlwind in itself, though as usual, any visit is very fruitful. It's wonderful to be able to pick up from the last point, catch up, share, and edify one another. I've been blessed in many ways through different perspectives and sharings... with a good reminder of the goal towards authenticity as the foundation for real community.

After I came back, I taught training in Beijing (9/20-21), taught training in Hong Kong (9/24-28; with a holiday on the Wednesday where we went hiking with fellowship), went on a church leaders retreat (9/30-10/1), went to Macau with my aunt and cousin (10/2), attended training (10/3-5), and attended a different training (10/8-9). All the while, had to run some unexpected errands for my mom and try to work on my Tyndale course (Church history: Reformation to modern church). No, I have not had any 'quiet day at the office' at all!!

All of the above has been tiring. However, there have been pockets of downtime in the above, mainly this past weekend, and it's been refreshing to just keep quiet, catch up on my readings, and have some prayer time... much, much needed.

The church leaders retreat was fruitful to get to know some other members of the church outside of the 'youth district' (i.e., the 'adults', haha). It was also very challenging and encouraging as the main topic was... authenticity. Another affirmation and reminder.

Within all of the above, I have not forgotten that I have already hit my one year mark (arrived October 2, 2006), though I just haven't had the time to sit down and reflect specifically on that. Time has definitely flown by. All in all, the first year has been as expected, I guess (though I don't generally have specific expectations) -- of patience, quietness. Now, it has felt good to get more involved at church (another fellowship, helping out with Sunday School) as well as spend additional time with other brother and sisters in Christ. Fellowship is a huge blessing, and work is developing very well. And yes, I think I can say my Cantonese has improved over this year. :)

Who knows what the next year will bring, but definitely, there is much to look forward to. All beyond our imaginations -- may all glory be to Him!

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

United Airlines 'pulls through' again! /
Living out of a suitcase /
I want to go home to HK...

United airlines pulls through again!! I thought I was going to cut my losses at about an hour and a half delay in Chicago for time taken to fix the air conditioning system on the plane. I now find myself at Hotel Nikko in Tokyo Narita where I'm spending the night. Other navigational problems did not allow up to go all the way to Hong Kong. Oh well, no major harm done.. At least I'm thankful to have *some* foresight to have given this airline one full day of cushion (well, also for any jetlag); i've got to fly to Beijing tomorrow night to teach training there on Thursday. Was hoping to chill at home tomorrow but oh well.. i just need to ensure i can get on a late enough flight out so that go home and repack for the 2-3 day trip. still hoping to make it to a particular section of the great wall!


Update is that I will NOT have time to go home before going to Beijing... so, oh well, I'm thankful that I did pack enough work clothes for me to facilitate in, so, we'll see how that goes.

Oh... United.....


This is a photograph taken from my hotel room in Tokyo Narita.. I found it interesting. Guess it's not really surprising anyway!

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The five love languages of airlines

After reading a substantial book, I thought I'd try to get through a couple of easier reads in my queue, including the Five Love Languages, a quick and easy read. Overall, the concepts are simple and I found the different examples for activities pretty practical for all readers... very quaint. :P

Well, not that I have flown on many different airlines, but in my reflective analytical ways, this is a hypothesis on the nature of service on airlines within the framework of the five love languages. :P

It's evident that north American airlines know nothing about service.. but why? [All 'cost structure' discussions aside.] One reason why I think Asian airlines demonstrate service is because they demonstrate their love to the passenger through multiple love languages.

Singapore Airlines is regarded as one of the best airlines; they provide courteous service (kind of like words of affirmation, perhaps quality time), give you things as you need (acts of service), and ice cream even on short flights (gifts)!

I fly Cathay quite a bit, and they are similar. When you're sleeping and you need to put the seat backs, there is a right touch on the shoulder. Plus, I haven't experienced too many delays with them which is the very basic act of service for an airline!

When I flew Cathay back to Toronto in May, I was most impressed by the head purser in helping passengers fill out their Canadian customs forms since many people on the flight didn't speak English. She treated every case personally, seeming to show that she understands that everyone has a different background with different paths of life. I'm sure her role was huge in helping perhaps some new immigrants on their first journey over to a foreign country.

In flying the other direction on British Airways, another airline that is regarded as higher class with better service; I think they have a different love language. Their planes are all newer and pretty well fitted. Their business class is known to be 'cool' and comfortable (the pods). They pride themselves on the gourmet quality of their meals. On the transatlantic leg, since many people sleep, I was slightly surprised at their way of providing snacks... they just out all their different snacks and people can help themselves. Here, BA provides you with the things to feel like you are well served. The flight attendants don't necessarily put in the quality time (or, any time at all with the self-help snacks), but for some, this may appeal for the 'gifts' or a different way of acts of service.

In contrast, Westjet (Canadian discount airline) does relatively well without many amenities (though the new planes do have personal TVs) because they add a personal touch. The flight attendants have told jokes and are personable in their time with the passengers.

And how about something like United Airlines? Well, there is no love. It's just duty. :P


I always have a bad feeling whenever I get on a United Airlines plane, even though it's been a while. When I boarded this time, I instinctively flashed back to the last flight on them... I think it was a few years ago going back to Toronto from Chicago, which was a transit from Lincoln, Nebraska.

It was a memorable flight because I really needed to go to the bathroom as we were landing/taxi-ing. Of course, the seatbelt sign is on and you're not supposed to get up. The taxi-ing took too long and I said to my coworker beside me, "I'm going to make a run for it."

I dashed to the washroom and as the flight attendants semi-yelled "ma'am..."

My automatic response was a blurt, "Sorry but I feel really sick" and then closed the washroom door.

The flight attendants were right outside the toilet in the aft and I could hear them chatting amongst themselves, "Is she okay?" "are you ok?" "should we call someone? An ambulance?"

I prolonged the closed door after a few minutes and said I was ok, and went back to my seat after we had finished taxi-ing. I figured that it was better to just stay contained within the toilet stall than walking back on the still moving (taxi-ing) plane. Hahaha... anyway, I'm thankful that in the end, they didn't call an ambulance. :P

Saturday, September 01, 2007

I added the English translation to the song.. though of course it doesn't capture the poetry of the Chinese.. and remember Chinese writing tends be very illustrative. If something is off/wrong (or if you can think of better translations -- mine is relatively direct), please let me know!

Friday, August 31, 2007

點解… 成日都係唔啱嘅男仔最有誠意?

Saturday, August 18, 2007

For those who read Chinese -- this new song from Streams of Praise expresses a lot of what I feel in thankfulness for the friends within this spiritual community.

詞:萬美蘭 曲:游智婷

謝謝妳燦爛笑容 Thank you for your lovely smile
照亮我的天空 that shines into my life
謝謝妳分享心情 Thank you for sharing your heartfelt thoughts
把我放在妳心中 putting me in your heart

夜裡有時為寒冷 Sometimes it gets cold at night
你我生根同暖土 But with you its warm
友情是最亮的星 Friendship is the brightest star
我的生命從此美麗 From now, life is beautiful

當妳被花朵包圍盡情歡欣 When you're immersed in joy surrounded by flowers
我帶春風使妳舞其中 I bring the spring wind in a dance
當妳正走在坎坷路 When you walk on the rocky road
我會伴妳在左右 I will walk with you all the way

一起向藍天歡呼 We go toward the blue skies
像白雲招手 While waving at the white clouds
我們要一起笑一起哭 We will laugh together, cry together
千萬人中有個人懂我 In a million people, one understands me
妳有最珍貴的角落 You are in my most treasured place

On a general aside, it has been interesting relearning how to worship in Chinese... at the beginning it was a struggle to learn the words (I still don't know 100% of the songs we sing, haha) that it was frustrating and distracting from my worship. However, after some familiarity, the lyrics have started to really speak to my heart.

It's definitely a different style of music in general, I think it has to do with the language [kind of also why I don't like to sing English songs at karaoke, haha], the Chinese language perhaps more precise and expressive? I don't know. The style is more ballad-like in expressing oneself, similar to Nichole Nordeman's music, but often different from general praise music. Neither way is better, just different.

I thank God for ALL of my friends. :)

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
-- Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

I realize that sometimes, the only audience to these blogs is myself; I don't expect anyone to be interested in re-reading some of my old blogs as I do... but if you're interested, here are links to two relatively more reflective b-day sharings: 2006 and 2004.

It's that time of year again, and as always, I don't like placing any intrinsic value on birthdays themselves; rather they are simply milestones to track this journey of life. Perhaps it's my results-oriented or measurement-oriented (accountant) nature... At least I am not as extreme as to suggest purely numerical measures... And I do embrace a balanced scorecard approach to overall evaluation. :P One such measure that recurs is that of God's blessings, which, ironically, for this purpose, cannot be measured in any case.

Last year was characterized as a year of abundant fruitfulness beyond my imagination. This year was (and still is) of a completely different pace: of observation and of waiting... things that I have not done in a while, it seems. So perhaps the passage of Ecclesiastes at the beginning of this blog best represents the situation for this year. It is a reminder that change is inevitable and even changes in pace are necessary. It is also very comforting to read this passage because all of our toil and activity happen under heaven and therefore are taken care of by our sovereign Lord. I pray that seeds continue to be sown as I enter into the second year here.

So, what did I do this first birthday in Hong Kong?

It was Sunday, which means I spent it just like any other Sunday! For that, I am very thankful to have the opportunity to praise God on that day. I am also thankful that Teresa also visited me this weekend (everything worked out... more on that later); she is one of the few people whom I have not seen at all since I left Toronto last September. We went to worship, then went to watch the Simpsons movie after lunch. :P Then she came to my fellowship at 3pm. During fellowship, there was a really good time of sharing of spiritual background and growth, when I broke down and cried. Not sure what exactly was going on in me, but I think I was deeply touched with God's grace in providing such a real community in such a short time. The search for being "real" continues as a focus in relationships, including my relationship with my God.

Taste and see that the Lord is good... -- Psalm 34:8
God is good.
I think that fellowship meeting for me was an emotional outpour in awe of his goodness. No matter where we are, no matter if we've known each other for 1 month or 5 years, we have spiritual fellowship, bounded by the Holy Spirit, in his community, all provided for us. Emmanuel! Praise Him! =) May this community continue to grow in the years to come.


Travelling with a typhoon

The timing worked out for Teresa to arrive this weekend... we arranged our flights to arrive at about the same time on Friday (Manila for me, Penang/KL for Teresa). However, Typhoon Pabuk had also made a U-turn back towards Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Observatory raised the T3 warning to a T8 warning on Friday at 2:30... about the same time we landed. A T8 warning is equivalent to a snowstorm warning where all the offices shut down. Soccer matches were postponed, concerts were postponed. I guess it was a big deal. :P People put all the precautionary measures (e.g., putting large "X's" of tape on large glass panes to minimize damage from shattering). Little did I know, the last T8 warning was 3 years ago! (i.e., they don't come often) However, praise God, both our flights got in within half an hour of each other.

Imagine everyone taking the TTC all at once... well, imagine more people in Hong Kong taking the MTR subway all at once. It was apparently crazy. However, Teresa and I avoided all of that because we stopped by her cousin's place in Tung Chung. By the time we took the MTR from Tung Chung into Central, the crowds had already subsided (even one hour before, they weren't letting people into the MTR stations because there were too many people inside) and we got home very smoothly. In fact, we did not see any significant rain and still walked out to the mall for dinner that evening.

Actually, I've avoided most of the major rainstorms this year as a result of my work travel. :P Slightly 'sheltered' that way. :P

Until next time (year?), this is Gladys Yam.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Treetops around the world

It happened that I got an opportunity to go treetop walking in Collingwood when I was back in Canada. (Thanks Cindy!!)

And then, it also happened that I got to go treetop walking in Malaysia when we (friends from fellowship) went to Kota Kinabalu!

The game is: Pick out the differences!

Whoa... first bridge.

Second bridge: George, Sarah, me

Third bridge (of three), the most unstable of them all. Me, Rosalyn, and the father of this little girl who practically ran across because it was too easy for her! *That* made it even more scary, haha. The funny thing is, the first one felt ok.. and then the second was worse... and the third was worst! I was actually kind of scared for this one because it wasn't completely even/level! The net at the side is somewhat of psychological comfort, I guess, but I had pictured where I would grab onto if the whole thing were to collapse a la Indiana Jones or something. :P

I suppose, overall, based on physics of the many ropes holding up the planks, it's quite safe (though, I should have also asked how many people fall off in KK... ZERO have fallen off in Collingwood, however, there is a HARNESS and helmet to prevent any injury). And I guess I've kind of gotten my phobia of heights after all these years to a manageable level! I was pretty worried about this one in KK.

Height in Collingwood: 60-80 feet
Height in KK: 100-120 feet

Monday, July 16, 2007

Promotional video for Kong Fok Church (港福堂) Youth ministries!

Simple, easy... gets the message across. ;) Even if you don't understand, hope you figure out what it's saying... it's not too complicated. =p Anyone looking for a church in Hong Kong? come with me!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Safely Back in Hong Kong

I had flown through London as a stopover because I stopped over for a few days on the way to Toronto. Yes, I flew through Terminal 4, so I *was* evacuated along with the rest of the crowd. Though the idea of it was rather unsettling, ["Could all passengers please evacuate the departure lounge and follow the security personnel."] I was just reading at the Starbucks area at this time, I didn't seem to be terribly worried... i had a few hours until my flight anyway. Here's a quick video of everyone in the parking lot!

Since I had time, I looked in the near distance and saw the Airport Hilton and made my way over there to get something to eat and use the bathrooms! So, really, it was paying money for some overpriced food and a short time of quietness. Then, I checked my flight and saw that it was actually flying out of Terminal 1... (hahaha...) which meant that I *could* have avoided the scene and the overpriced food. OOOPS. :P So, afterwards, I walked from the Hilton to Hatton Cross to take a bus to Terminal 1. (Terminals 1, 2, and 3 were not affected.) And then spent some time there until my flight, which was only slightly delayed.

Thank God for smooth travels! [NO luggage problems for me... even though I was semi-expecting it when waiting in Hong Kong.] It is nice to be back in order to take it easy.. I slept ALL afternoon and evening when I got back. I guess I was pretty exhausted.

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Wow, can't believe it's about mid-June. I wrote the CFA this year, yet again, this time in Hong Kong. I was getting so used to the annual routine at the Toronto CNE, when I could roll in 15 minutes before the exam without any problem. This year, it was held at the Asia-World Expo on Lantau Island and not the Wanchai Convention and Exhibition Centre. It just means that it's far... beyond the Airport on the Airport Express.

However, given the smooth transit system, I have no complaints, and given the volume of writers in Hong Kong (continue this thought afterwards), CFA Institute even negotiated a cheaper transit ticket to the exam centre. On top of that, since Asia-World Expo does not allow outside food, they organized lunch boxes for everyone (with a price, of course, but not unreasonable).

First... my pencils... it's kind of funny because for all of my previous CFA exams, I was using the exactly same package of $1.00 yellow primary school-type pencils that I bought at a dollar store with a friend.. since when would I actually use those yellow pencils otherwise?? Just once a year! It seemed silly to bring them to Hong Kong, so I borrowed some from work... it's just funny to me because these are as symbolic as you can get for Chinese stationery. Ah yes, I wrote in Hong Kong this year. :p

Then, I was wondering how many people write this exam. Actually, I was pretty surprised, as I was researching which CFA Society to join (i.e., Toronto or Hong Kong), that Toronto has the second-highest members out of all CFA societies internationally. Not bad. Of course, I expected the volume of writers to be high in Hong Kong... after all: (a) the general population is much higher than Toronto, (b) HK people are ever pursuing further education, even if CFA is totally unrelated to the job, and (c) Hong Kong is a major financial centre which means that many more people *should* actually write this exam.

So, I estimate that about 2,500 wrote Level III, which means that there were likely >10,000 writers on the Airport Express that morning! (since many people would actually write Level I even without the objective of pursuing the designation any further.) Back to the lunch boxes. HK-logistical efficiency at its best. They had a hall set up just for lunch as they served the previously-purchased lunch boxes. It was a sight to behold.. and I discreetly tried to take pictures without looking too silly. This is not a very good one of the lunch hall... the "line" at the back is actually the line-up to get lunchboxes. They served everyone in under 40 minutes. Soooo efficient! Food wasn't really good, but at least I didn't have to think about what to bring for lunch.

Anyway, that was that. Results come out mid-August, and I'll see. Not really sure what to think... including whether I would re-write if I failed... who knows, it's just all in His hands, and if I pass, then, all glory to God!! I don't deserve it! :p

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Congratulations!! =)

Music video put together by Bonnie's ex-student (is this right??) It's a fantastic job... though, i'd say the story-line is a little 'bei' to the point of 'au'. =p

May God bless you both on your life journey together! =)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

... *blessed*

My first visit (I'm a visitor and not a resident! No gifts over $60! :p) back to Toronto was a very blessed one. Yes, it was purposeful by my own accord, but I also can only stand in awe of God's goodness. His community of faith is such a reality of his love for us... it's amazing that he really does prepares such a community for each of us. We are just so undeserving of such grace!

Can't really say anything in particular! Not too many pictures to evidence the visit[though, I realize how I could easily take many pictures of the "clean" air (good thing about visiting in May and not August) and share with my friends from Hong Kong...] and I don't need to do any super-fun things and I am fine eating the same things every day, it is just a joy to sit with a friend and chat. :)

I'm back in HK now... got much to catch up on, especially studying... < 2 weeks left before I'm free from this silliness.

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Philippines: Corregidor

I was in Manila over the "Holy Week", ended up returning to HK on Good Friday. However, as our radius of adventure does not extendbeyond the hotel and the office, we stay only in the business district called Makati City, where no one actually lives... so it is actually a ghost town during Holy Week. That was kind of unfortunate... I had hoped to attend some church services while I was here, but probably not the best idea for me to venture off by myself...

No matter, thankfully, I was able to attend my friend on a Wednesday night service held in a converted movie theatre in the Greenbelt mall. The Greenbelt is great, we pretty much go there for lunch every day (it's huge... many restaurants, and movie tickets are relatively inexpensive compared to HK or North America!). I truly believe that everyone who was born in the Philippines can sing and dance well. The worship service was no less. It was a great time of much-needed worship.

We get 3 days off for Easter (longer than Chinese New Year this year.. crazy), so on the Thursday, I went with 2 coworkers to Corregidor on a day trip.

Corregidor is about an hour and a half boat ride away from Manila. Since Philippines was gained by the United States from Spain after the Spanish-American War (along with Puerto Rico and Guam), the Philippines became a strategic stronghold during WWII. General MacArthur (picture of statue below =p) was stationed here in the Far East. During WWII, Corrigedor fell to the Japanese, meaning Philippines fell to Japanese rule for approximately 3 years, but was regained by American troops.

The visit was great. The tourguide was obviously very experienced (19 years) and very funny at it. There isn't a whole lot to see, per se, mainly all of the ruined barracks which have not been touched since the bombings during the war. The U.S. had 8000 troops stationed in Corregidor... amazing because it's such a small island (land area of 9 square km). Other than ruins, there were other big guns stationed at key points on the island. One of the key strategic benefits about Corregidor is that it is very rocky. The Americans built within the rocky hill a massive tunnel called the "Malinta tunnel", built to be bombproof. Quite incredible.

Lastly, there is the Pacific War Memorial erected by the US government. Of course, it made me think of the Pearl Harbor memorial when I visited Hawaii last year. The design of this memorial is similar to the one at Pearl Harbor, incorporating elements of sunlight; it is designed such that sunlight shines directly overtop the indoor marker only on May 19(?) the day of liberation(?). Something like that. =p

All in all, this visit was richly informative but also humbling to learn about the many different aspects of this war that affected so many people all the way in the Far East, which I knew nothing about.

As typical, the tour agency had people taking pictures and selling them. The scary thing about this picture was that I didn't pose for him... I was actually posing for my friend... which means that I didn't realize he took a picture of me! Oh well, printed and framed for 100 pesos (about 2 USD). So why not.

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Looks like Toyota (or Ford, in my opinion), but.... Bizarro World!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Haha, an article that I thought was funny, about the counterfeits in China. =p From the Economist.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Seoul, Korea

Finally, got the pictures from my coworker... we went to Seoul a few weeks ago for work and stayed over for a couple of days, and we were able to meet up with those teachers in Korea!

Overall, the cost of living is very high! I guess it caught me by surprise because the locations where we go for work (China, Manila) is usually much cheaper than Hong Kong. But overall, I'd say Korea seems to be even more expensive than Japan (for normal items, such as shopping for clothes.) However, domestic cosmetic products are very inexpensive!

Here are some pictures:

This is a "national treasure" -- an old gate from the historic capital which was right behind our (really nice) hotel. [Probably the best hotel I've stayed at... of course, the price is up there too.] I was seriously on the phone with Melody for a bit. =p

This is the sign outside one of the malls in the "Dongdaemon" shopping district. Can you say, crazy shopping culture?? It is definitely a city that does not sleep.. and even more so than Hong Kong because they actually stay open through the night!

Erika (small group last year!) and I at one of the biggest palace parks in Seoul. The weather was TERRIBLE... cold and raining... and we were not equipped (sigh, we were caught with no umbrella). In the end, we couldn't wait to find some hot soup or bibimbap.

Kammie, another teacher, Erika, my coworker Armin (who is from Philippines and therefore is not accustomed to the cold weather... nor was really equipped for it... but she survived!) and at hot pot in Myeongdong district (another shopping district).

These two are at the Yoido Full Gospel Church, the biggest church congregation in the world with about 850,000 members. We were fortunate to attend service where the Senior Pastor, Dr. Yonggi Cho, spoke. I had actually heard him speak at Missionfest in Toronto... and I believe we heard exactly the same message this Sunday (!!)...

It is a charismatic church, and as in his visit to Toronto, he prayed a prayer of healing where he prayed at the pulpit. Throughout the prayer, he announced when he knew people were healed from various ailments. Listening to a "Korean-style prayer" (where everyone prays out loud, all at once) with so many people was interesting too. The amusing thing to me was when they did that, there was actually a small bell (or perhaps a musical triangle) to signify the end of the prayer. I find that amusing because when we did it for fellowship, I felt it was awkward to pray and not know when to end, but then once one person stops, the rate of ending the prayer follows an exponential curve. Haha..

In the second picture, all of the people dressed in blue and white are lining up to take offering.

What impressed Erika and me the most was their orchestra and choir. Amazing! And Erika and I are both have pretty "picky" ears =p... I was blown away. Enthusiastic and passionate conductors always make me smile... I had to take a video! The quality of music was unbelievable.

Overall, the Full Gospel Church experience was a positive one. However, when we arrived, we were ushered off into the foreigner section which was slightly intimidating (and the sanctuary was packed so originally we had to sit in the "foreigner overflow" watching a screen). In the end, we wanted to see the pulpit so ended up sitting on some steps, until others left and we got seats. They were also quite pushy in getting us to attend the post-service debrief. Needless to say, with a congregation of this size, they run like a machine... (the headsets in the foreigner section are multi-language simultaneous translations). May they continue to win souls for Christ.

Last stop, the Korean War Memorial which not only includes exhibits on the Korean War but also Korea's entire history of war, e.g., since the Korean dynasties were first formed. It was an information-packed tour. I found it very interesting to learn about this nation which fought with and against the Chinese and Japanese throughout history... sort of like understanding the other side (not that my knowledge of Chinese history is extensive). It also gives some background understanding to the isolation of North Korea now.

Overall, a great trip! I also got my dose of "cold weather" -- though a couple days were enough for me. =p The cold rain and wind was not pleasant at all... though I suppose I can't really complain about the weather this year!!

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

I can't simply laugh at the comic strip because in a way, I complain about my work situation with the same attitude... (and I've complained about not being able to self-actualize for a while now =p).

I had a chance to meet up with an old high school friend here. We probably haven't really had chatted since high school! Though I wouldn't say we're very close, it was nice to catch up, especially as we both share in our Christian faith. I also had to answer the popular "So why did you come to Hong Kong?" question. My response is my (standard) "7-step" presentation, though it's been a long while since I've thought about those points and original purposes and objectives.

I'm hitting my 6-month mark. It sounds like a small number, but also seems like a high number... it really has been half a year since I've relocated. My results-minded nature has come out and in a subtle way, I've felt a sort of panic in figuring out how to deliver results. Haha... It's quite silly. On one hand, I knew that I would have to spend a good chunk of time in an observational mode (and this is not to say that this observation period is over), and on the other, I have been impatient while trying to teach myself the discipline of patience.

But now that I've observed for a little bit, it's about time to start getting into things. I think God has the timing worked out too... Work was frustratingly stop-and-go for the past couple of months (which led to me being very lazy). Now that a major project has come to an end, I look forward to different new starts.

I remember when I felt really, really sluggish last year. Somehow, I was able to motivate myself through "Project Get Organized!" So, my new project in self-motivation is "Project Step-it-up!" I look forward to finally leading Bible study at church, and taking on more responsibility at work (hopefully not to over-extend... I even outright asked for an audit client yesterday (!!)). And lastly, I have successfully started studying for the (stupid) CFA. This will be difficult. It is tough going through this material for which I have no passion... we shall see how this goes...

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

The descriptions aren't too bad... And maybe that's a Harman Kardon in the Mini, haha

Thursday, March 01, 2007

More thoughts that come from the Alchemist...

I think another reason for the success of this book is the hope that this delightful story gives for each person: Yes, every person has a Personal Legend... will you pursue it?

Perhaps it has been yet another recurring theme for me since I wrote my paper on "the role of the church in the postmodern culture."

I go back to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs (yes, I'm a big subscriber).

This generation, a term I broadly use, has been blessed abundantly. We did not live during the 20's when there was a depression and we didn't know whether there would be enough money for the next day's food... nor do we live in our parents time in Asia during the 50's when Hong Kong saw tragedies during the Japanese occupation or in China during the Cultural Revolution. I have never doubted about the existence of my physical needs. Or even the next level, of safety. The next two levels are less granted, though our society encourages both and attempt to provide when those are lacking. Finally, we reach self-actualization.

I know my observations reflect a specific slice of the circles i have encountered... we who have been blessed with education (even post-secondary, and even multiple degrees), with a likeminded community and affluence of being in the top 10% of the population (approximately... from an old Canadian survey with income cutoff of approximately $64,000... basically, it's relevant to me because that's around the level all newly qualified CA's generally make...)

But an observation is that this "generation" has a much decreased drive than our previous generations... when those generations worked full drive towards more immediate needs (e.g., levels 1 to 4). I'm not referring to one's vocation specifically, but just... drive. What drives you?

It is interesting that all of the provisions and blessings we have received... including receiving many different choices and opportunities for self-actualization... yet, now lacking motivation to take that step.

I do say this for myself. Though I have a lucrative vocation (and a vocation I believe I am called into), I hesitate to think how I would "self-actualize" in it. Through different studies, I know I have other passions (e.g., theology... though accounting still remains one...) do I see myself making a complete jump to pursue such a "Personal Legend" of becoming a seminary professor? I don't know. I understand how choices can be paralyzing sometimes...

In this way, I think a reason why the Alchemist has been popular because it reinspires each person's own purpose... there *are* things to strive towards! Will you follow the signs of the "omens"?

My paper also touched upon the success of Purpose-Driven Life in this same way... PDL provides each person with a personal identity and purpose... something that may have been lost along the way when we have been clouded by many images from media and entertainment. Michael Chang also shared a similar message (yes, tennis player Michael Chang! He shared in English. =p) at another church in Hong Kong (while we watched via live feed, haha). His message was basically, "Do you dare to dream?"

Michael Chang shared about his dream of being a world-class tennis star when he was 6, in the basement of his home. He also shared about his struggles and prayers as he struggled through the 1989 French Open as his legs cramped up during the early rounds, but through this supernatural strength and God-given ability to move, he was given the victory. It was inspiring to hear his story and how he ascribed it all to the Lord.

I see these recurring messages being applied to many different levels... one, as in my paper, in how the church can answer the needs of the popular society, akin to how Purpose-Driven Life has given new meaning to life for some non-believers.

Another level is a challenge to all of us Christians... we who are in a comfortable and affluent slice of society... how will we describe your self-actualization to your children or grandchildren, and what motivated us behind it?

It has not been a rare "lament" (among multiple circles =p) as to the lack of examples of godly men in the churches that I know... Guys! Will you follow take up the lead as a continuation of Adam's Personal Legend? Haha, but yes, the challenge is for both genders and is consistent with the *ten* talents which we have received and on which the Lord expects a return.

What is your Personal Legend? Do you dare to follow it?
What drives you; what is your purpose?
Do you dare to dream?

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Praise God!!

I am in Beijing for a leisure trip and will be returning to Hong Kong tomorrow.

It was a great trip of many breathtaking sights... and I am thankful for a miracle: I left my cell phone on a taxi in Beijing last night... and got it back today!! Miracle! Praise God!!

The funny thing for me is... this is not the first time I've lost my cellphone... the last time, I left it at the Toronto Pearson airport and got it back later that night too. =p

All in all, I can only ascribe to God's goodness. Praise God!!

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Well, I think one of the biggest dilemmas this year is having to give out red pockets.. no no, nothing happened to my marital status =p but it seemed to be a general *spoken* rule that all managers and up have to give red pockets to people "under". [Thinking back to my co-op days, I guess I got red pockets from my managers too.]

It's just a funny dilemma... how much to give... whether to give more to people we directly work with... whether we should give red pockets to the tea lady or not (she's probably the biggest gainer out of all people, haha...) [the dilemma is that she is attitude-y and doesn't give water to everyone... just the partners, haha, well, she doesn't acknowledge the presence of anyone who is a senior or under, I guess]... and then arguing the "netting out" amongst us managers [managers are one class.. no differentiation of seniority among the manager group, as in, I don't need to give to new managers.] Anyway, it's funny.

At least, I only need to give a few as our group is small without many seniors and no staff!

It's funny how things revolve around the money.. but to me, I think the part that bugs me the most is how it is engrained as an "expectation" in the culture (hence the "spoken" rule... not just an unspoken rule). In Toronto, I am more than happy to take people out for lunch and dinner because I'm just happy to do it.

And it doesn't necessarily change how I am here, except that people just joke about everyone else paying that it becomes to an awkward extent, and then I already don't want to take anyone out any more. [Maybe it comes down to people are more visibly and proudly 'gu hon'.]

At the same time, I know that is part of my problem about being spiteful whenever I *sense* that people have an expectation on myself. [As in, if I feel that you expect something of me, then, I'll purposefully not do it.] Haha... this came about at a young age when my mom used to wake me up by turning my lights on, and in my head I always thought, "All right, i'll get up once you turn the lights off!" Of course, neither way really worked, hahaha.

And as for the red pockets, I am happy to give them to people who are humble about it (and especially if they've helped me on my engagements). The other part that kind of bugs me is the "public display" of praises and well-wishes... which, I am sure comes from the heart (though, usually, it's to "get" the red pockets)... but, I guess the problem is just me. That's not my style as I prefer words that are generally more informal and *real*, not need to be seen and heard by the public eye and hears. And the same goes for this for the "giver" of the red pockets... I think I'll pull my seniors aside to do it...

Sigh, a difficult part of the culture to deal with for me!

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Happy New Year! We welcome in the year of the Pig... guess the only difference this year is that I get a couple of days off for CNY. =p [Also, Happy belated Valentine's Day!]

It was great to have multiple E&Y/ex-E&Y meals (haha... some things don't change...), it has also been a joy to enjoy fellowship time with old and new friends... to share our continued story God's blessings and our continued challenges as we seek and discern his will.

It was also fun to have people over at the little Taikoo inn =p (no problem with 4 ppl here! Though, one bathroom does make it difficult sometimes!) And whoever would like to visit, I will try to welcome you with Chinese soup!! haha

Here are Ray & Sandra, great examples of humble servants of Christ.

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

I just finished reading The Alchemist (haha, one of the rare books of fiction on my bookshelf... I'll get to Da Vinci Code sometime... though, not sure if I left it in Toronto or not.)

Other than being a delightful read, what impressed me the most was the smoothness of the writing. I thought he did an interesting (and very good) job of intermingling the spirituality of Islam, Christianity, folk religion and Eastern mysticism (e.g., pantheism).

It's inevitable for me to see integration in all that I encounter (part of how I learn, I think). I love thinking about the "application of principles" from one area to another (say, accounting to theology, or secular management into a Christian environment). So, the principles in this book, despite the mixture of spiritualities, are aligned to principles which I deeply value.

In the spirit of the lifelong search of finding the Soul of the World, I relate to idea of a lifelong quest for wisdom by noticing the caravans while reading my books. I've started to learn to listen to my heart... especially in understanding the tensions of the heart as an interesting "check and balance" as presented here. I like to think I live in the present and eat when it's time to eat, not dwelling too much in the past or worrying too much about the future. And I am reminded of the tidbit of wisdom at the beginning of the book, to see the marvels of the world but not to forget the drops of oil in the spoon...

Saturday, February 03, 2007

The Community of Believers

Finding Kong Fok Church (KFC) continues to be a blessing and a huge affirmation for my move here. [I was probably 90% close to deciding on another church but thought I would try out KFC to say that I "tried" another church.]

As I reflect on this simple idea of finding a suitable church, I find it amazing that this fellowship and community here, unbeknownst to them, is exactly the answer to the prayers of a group of brothers and sisters in Christ halfway around the world -- a connection is drawn.

In this way, you, who were part of my "old" community back in Toronto, continue to form a foundation for my community now.

And in this way, you, who are part of my "new" local community in Hong Kong, have now been extended not just by one person, but by many supporting brothers and sisters across the globe. I am sure there will be opportunities to gradually meet these supporters over time!

To me, it’s a simple realization. Though I rationally know in my mind that we form part of the "Big C" Church of the community of believers, perhaps it is this tangible connection of connected communities that has opened my eyes. It never ceases to amaze me of the reality of the bond that we have in the Holy Spirit; to experience the (immediate) connections drawn on a spiritual level, the joy and encouragement that are shared.

This joy is furthered when traveling or working at a different office and I have the opportunity to share in fellowship with those I have just met. It doesn't matter what job we have or our level of education, or where we grew up or where we now live; our souls are saved through Jesus Christ and we know there is something to look to in eternal life in heaven. And we simply celebrate through fellowship and the breaking of bread; it's a joy that is beyond words…

I integrate back to my reflections in my final paper which described the role of the church in the current culture. I believe that such authenticity in person-to-person relationships is a key aspect, and hope that I can remember this in my relationships, and even in this blog.

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Friday, February 02, 2007

After all these years, perhaps it's time for a change! [Maybe not, if my problems with Blogger are resolved in the near future...]

But please, consider also checking out the new Balance.
General feeling of homesickness

Perhaps it is the end of a 3-4 month typical "honeymoon period" since I arrived here on October 2, coinciding with my mom leaving, the start of my work busy season, plus perhaps some other physiological reasons as well!

I've always been quite independent, so coming into this (i.e., after moving to Hong Kong) I kind of wondered how the feeling of homesickness would manifest itself for me. From breaking down this compound word, I wasn't sure if I would really miss home that way... though deep down I probably do, in terms of the stability and knowledge that there would always be people home, even if I always returned home late and didn't see my parents until the weekend anyway... No doubt, I miss my many good friends whom I used to seek (and of course, still do) for spiritual support. With technology, it has definitely been much easier to keep in touch, and perhaps even more than before in the morning and the evenings!

The purpose of this is not to lament... I acknowledge these are very real emotions for me (believe it!! even though I generally hide them!!) and to further the understanding of my human condition. I believe it is critical for us to come to terms with emotions and recognize they are an integral part of being created in the image of God... to realize that Jesus similarly felt deep emotions when he wept for Lazarus... or, to recognize the depth of God's emotions as a metaphor when we turn away from Him.

I remember one of my original objectives in moving away from Toronto was to experience living by God's grace and test my faith by going out of my comfort zone; although Hong Kong is already as close to my comfort zone as "outside" gets! But it is through going through this short valley (and hardly a dark valley at that) that we remember Christ's promises, his providence, and his grace, all sufficient for us.

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

I apologize for the lack of substance in my blogs of late... my thoughts over the past few weeks have been an integration of a number of things including:

reading the latest book in my queue (Soultalk by Larry Crabb), listening to the Urbana 2006 plenary messages, hearing a message by Michael Chang (e.g., ex-professional tennis player) at church, plus through my continual online Bible study in the book of Acts with a few good sisters in Christ and continual thoughts from my last final paper (which was also centred on Acts 2)...

In terms of events, I was able to spend a few more days with Bigjon before he left, spent a week in Manila for work, then my mom left for Toronto, and then I just came back yesterday from a personal trip to Singapore.

My problem is that I can't help but integrate everything that I know into some underlying principles... which on one hand is part of my cultivation of my "theological garden", yet, on the other, is perhaps a futile task because things simply can't be generalized or boiled down to such principles!

Regardless, here are some "recurring themes" of late...

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Happy New Year!

This year, new year was ushered in for me in the "Soho" area of Hong Kong, which stands for "south of Hollywood" in the mid-levels in Central. Jon and I went for a late dinner there. Quite good, Mediterranean tapas... yum...

Since New Year's eve was on a Sunday, i went to service as usual and we still had fellowship. It was a really good study on Hosea 3. Church actually had new year's eve events so after fellowship, we killed time by playing the Wii at someone's place. So fun!! So funny!! I'd consider buying it, but my living room doesn't allow for the range of movement.... puts my TV in too much risk [especially as I walk up to it to play bowling, haha]!

Then early on New Year's day, a bunch from fellowship, including Jon, went to Guangzhou on a trip. It was a hectic day of travelling, but eye-opening and a great experience overall. Hoping that we will go again, and there has been positive response among the group too!

One picture (thanks to Jon took it) of the group, waiting at the pier to get picked up (we waited for an hour... only the start of the travelling troubles, haha)

We have, from left to right, Emily, Matthew, Sarah, Pluto (or, "uncle Pluto"... I thought it funny he called himself that to Jon, since the age gap is probably really small, if any!), me, James, Rosalyn, Duncan. It was great working with them, a fun group, especially in one of those "surprise! you're putting on a Meeting today!" situation

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.