6/25/2013: A lesson from my Mistake

6/25/2013: A lesson from my Mistake

S: 12:04am
E: 12:55am

Time is very short. In fact, I’m already overtime. For the record, this discovery will be for myself so it won’t interfere with my truthful writing.

To many of the youth members from my church, today (I mean yesterday), is a good day. They had BBQ, we got to socialize, and we watched Despicable Me. But for me, it is a horrible day because I didn’t follow God completely and it hurts to see my Christian brothers and sisters so into the world.

The best way; the perfect way, is to follow God completely. Everything else sucks. The pleasures this world gives suck. Yet, throughout the night, not one of the youths played Christian music, the music of eternal life and eternal value. All the music they played is “feel good” music. Feel good to what? Feel good to our human natures. Why is that bad? Because it is tainted by sin from the beginning. And we must be completely without sin to be with God. I know we can always ask for forgiveness and, depending on our hearts, He will forgive, but what is wrong is that I didn’t do my best. I should not worry that I might be kicked out or become a “party spoiler.” When the youths were watching Despicable Me, I should have closed my eyes and prayed silently. The movie doesn’t have any value because it doesn’t glorify God. Sure it’s funny, but Satan uses humor to change us to be evil.

I’m not really depressed by what they are doing, but by my inaction of it. I wasn’t courageous enough. I wasn’t watching with spiritual eyes enough. I wasn’t close to God enough. I’m also upset at myself because I didn’t pray for the youths or for the world enough. Not as much as I could.

And I made mistakes. People may be less forgiving but I’m glad God is more forgiving. I learned today though the Spirit that nothing else in this world matters. I should change myself again. I mean not really change but become, really become the person God wants me to be. I took the first step, by sharing my weaknesses and trying to be myself but I think it’s time I take the next one. I need to follow the fruits of the Spirit.

These youths.. they only (or so it seems) want what God gives them; they only want the blessings yet they don’t want the work that comes. They are more enthralled by the world than in God. They are basing their industries in the wrong thing. True, sometimes actually many times my old nature surfaces up like Paul, but what matters is that I vehemently try to follow God because I know deep inside that He is the only Thing that is worth it. Claire is different. She tries to follow God and ask questions. Anna too, but I feel she is half-world and half-God. She loves God but she also loves the world (the pleasures of the world, not people in the world).

Let these youths or other people judge me. My true purpose is the follow God. If I make mistakes trying to follow God then that’s okay. I just don’t want to make mistakes while not following God.

Because of this, maybe being with people is not such a good thing. Maybe I do have a point in saying I want to be alone and just talk to God. I be with people and I get overwhelmed by their lack of spiritual growth and their worldliness. I like how Uncle Allan said in church last Sunday. He said even though ex-President Bush made tons of mistakes, as long as he said he’s a Christian and tries to follow God, that’s okay. But President Obama is not sure of his spirituality. Allan and me doesn’t know where he stands. Does he follow God? Is he a Christian?

So, I want to change myself again. I want to be more meek, to be more humble, to have more peace, to be more patient. If things seem to be in a rush, I will slow down and not act rashly. God is in control and what is for us is greater than what is against us. If I’m driving in the car with Danny and Shawna and there is just silence because there is nothing good to say than I will just remain silent. Saying something just to break the silence is bad. God is the judge and everything I try to do is in accordance with the Bible. I will still love them. I need to be more self-controlled.

Sometimes I remember praying that I can have a “hot-line” to God. I tend to perform better spiritually at night. During the night, I feel I can talk to God much easier. The connection is stronger. I wish every day I can talk to God like I talk to a walkie-talkie.

If people question me and ask “Steven, what are you doing?” or “Why are you behaving like this?” I will tell them that I “want to be the person God wants me to be.” If they ask “How do you know what God wants you to be?” I will answer “Through his Word and though his Spirit that he gave me.”

Sometimes I wish bad things can happen to my youth members not to destroy them, but to build them up. After all, bad things happened to me in the Army and it helped me to grow.

I know by writing this and behaving like this I may lose many friends from church. But, if they love God, I’ll see them in heaven and we can be friends again.

I think what is the main difference between members of my youth group and me is not I have more wisdom or I behave better (or the other way around) or any other thing but simply because I try to follow God [more]. And the amount of our effort determines [the speed of] our spiritual growth. Course I mess up, course I get angry, and make mistakes, but as long as I try to follow the Lord, my stock in the stock market will be in an upward trend. Volatility doesn’t matter.

I want to try to do more in evangelism. I want to try to answer at least one spiritual or personal issue question from Yahoo! Answers once a day. I used to do that before but I stopped. It doesn’t matter if I will get less “best answers” or my percentage will go down. What matters is that I try to please God. If I suck in trying then oh well, I’ll try harder. I will either finish the race or die trying. I think that is what every Christian is supposed to do. Then we will have eternal life.

祂為愛來到世上
祂為愛走上十架
祂的愛改寫歷史
祂的愛重生了我

2/1/2011: Defense against Judgments

2/1/2011: Defense against Judgments

S: 9:51am

E: 11:28am (came back from formation)

Right now, I feel I’m on a low ebb on my writing skills. But, I still have to write. I write the good, I also need to write the bad times. Starkingdoms, the only game I allow myself to play, has been taking a lot of my time, but, at least it’s a lot more social than other games I’ve been playing. The leadership skills and practice in forums can help me grow as a person. Actually, I have been quite busy, between college, praying, doing military stuff, personal maintenance, and Star Kingdoms, and I find it hard to find time to write.

I’m also kind of forgetful sometimes. I was half-done on my other discovery I started but my mind then went blank. For me to write well, I need to be honest and write about my feelings and intentions before I write my content. I need to write about myself first before I write what I was planning to write.

For the past few weeks, I decided to socially isolate myself (esp. Facebook) because I needed to grow in God and self more. I’m afraid of people judging but I happy to say I have at last found a solution.

One thing that I find it hard in this world is judging. In my life, everyday, people judge me all the time, either intentionally or unintentionally. For example, when a soldier says, “Steven, wake up. Stop being lazy,” he is inferring:

Major premise: People who close their eyes during work are lazy.

Minor Premise: Steven is closing his eyes during work hours.

Conclusion: Therefore, Steven is lazy.

But, that is not the case. I did not close my eyes because I wanted to slack off and be lazy. No, the reason why I closed my eyes is so I can have the energy to do a better job. I chose to close my eyes because I know my weaknesses and I am trying to counter them.

This is why Jesus said in Matthew 7:1, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” God is right about that command because since God knows everything, only He can be the judge.

Before, my response is would be to argue and defend myself but I found the more I argue and defend myself, the more judgments and accusations I receive. Then, I tried to “be like Jesus,” by trying to know when to speak and when to remain silent. That helped, but, I think I found the best solution.

The solution is to, Steven, listen up, the solution to being judged is to be humble, truthful, and let your yes be yes and your no be no (Matthew 5:37). The truth will come in the end and God will be the ultimate judge.

I will do my best not to judge others but to pray for them. I cannot change people; only God can change people. I will be nice, caring, loving to everyone and I will also listen to my spirit as to when to speak and when to remain silent. However, if people judge me, I need to be humble, say the truth, and leave it to that. I will not go on explaining and defending myself. I will just let my “yes” be “yes” and my “no” be “no.” God knows the truth and He knows everything. He will be my real Judge.

PS: I have been so worried about being judged that I did not only isolate myself from Facebook, but also from my parents. I haven’t replied any of my dad’s e-mails this year nor have I called my mom in Taiwan. I always tell myself that I am not ready, that I am too stressed out to talk, but, I need not be afraid. God will be the Judge.

喜樂泉源 (Fountain of Joy) by 讚美之泉 (Stream of Praise)

祢是我喜樂泉源 祢使我歡欣跳躍
祢使我自由飛翔 不再被罪惡綁
祢是我永生盼望 祢愛有無比力量
從今時直到永遠 祢應許不會改變
祢的寶血 有能力 能醫治一切的傷口
祢的復活 能改變 一切的咒詛成為祝福
我們要高舉祢聖名 祢配得所有最大的讚美
我們要用全心 和全意 來敬拜祢
我們要歡迎祢來臨 願祢來設立寶座在這裡
我們要張開口 不停讚美祢

Fountain of Joy

For the past few days, I feel restless and uneasy. I find that by dancing and singing songs like this really cheered me up and helped me to give my burden to God. Hmm, when I get back to the States, I might sing this song along with my dance moves :)

It is Jesus who sets me free. I am so happy.

1/23/2011: Better than them

1/23/2011: Better than them

S: 7:47pm

E: 8:33pm

I don’t know how to start this. People read what I write and people are concerned about first impressions. It’s like I know what to write but I don’t know how to disseminate the information. This is the gift of a teacher. A teacher knows stuff but he or she has to find a way to share the information so everyone else can understand as good as the teacher. Just as I’m trying to think how my former students think and process learning information, I’m trying to think of how to approach this. I’m glad when we go to heaven, time will not be a matter, so therefore, first impressions will not matter. I can spend infinity and infinity with everybody.

I just found out what an evil and wicked person I am. Of course I know that I’m evil and everyone is evil because we are born in sin, but I am just beginning to realize the extent of my sin and uncleanness. Knowing God is not a substitute for following God. I found this out the hard way. I can read so much about God, read the Bible, pray, love, etc, etc, but if I don’t follow Him, everything will go haywire. That no matter how much we know about God, we still cannot live righteously. The way to live righteously is to pick up our cross and follow God (Matthew 10:38). Knowledge about God cannot change sinful human nature.

This is where I failed yesterday. After a frustrating day of work, I came to my room and I’m glad I can finally detress and unwind with Sunday, a free day, ahead of me. There was nobody in our tent. I laid down on my bed and temptations came to me. This is your chance, my mind told me, there is nobody here. Nobody will know. I was tempted to check pornography. But then, I remembered what I wrote yesterday about the dangers of unwinding in God or in the world. I got up my bed and decided to write a discovery about my hardship when I was trying to sleep (but can’t) on Friday night and what I learned.

After writing about half-way, I had a need to use the latrine, so I went, took a dump, and came back. However, when I came back, my flesh won over. I thought screw it, I’m just going to check and relieve myself really quick. Nobody will know. Well, God will know, but He will be the judge. I have to; I can’t help myself. So I got out of bed, closed my half-written discovery without saving, and checked porn. Granted, I had a good time but I knew that short-term gain is not worth long-term pain. After that incident, my morals went downhill. I played computer games. Adult Japanese computer games. I did not eat dinner that night because I feel so afraid. Just as Adam hid in the bush after eating the forbidden fruit, I want to hide in my room and enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. And that vicious cycle went on until today. When I realized that I’m not as good as a person I think I am.

I look at my battle buddies, fellow soldiers and they talk about sin openly. They talk about sex, girls, hate, they spread gossip, etc. They spend a lot of their time watching racy movies, some even porn movies. I know soldiers who have gigabytes of porn. I can’t believe it. They live on what feels good. I shun their behavior. I try to avoid them. I try to help them. But then, half an hour before I started writing this discovery, a realization came to my mind: That I am just as sinful, if not more sinful then they. The only thing that separates me from them is that I try to do good, that I try to follow God, that I have organized resistance against evil. I look at them and I’m glad I know and love God, that I’m not a “sinner or tax collector” (Matthew 9:11).

Matthew 9:10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” came and ate with him and his disciples.

11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?”

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14)

So many times, I know I’m an evil person, I know that I sin (specifically, fall into temptation) all the time but at least I’m not that bad as them. I don’t talk about evil (much), I don’t watch porn movies, I don’t do these nasty things, but yet, I do them in the safety of my own room. I’m being like a Pharisee, too. I don’t’ do these evil things openly and I disapprove those who do and I try to help and pray for them, but yet, I myself do those things secretly. I heard from the Barnes Poll that a third of pastors check porn at least once a month. That’s shocking. Today, I discovered that knowing about God and experiencing Him is no substitute for following Him. I can know God, I can praise and say He has done wonderful things for me, but yet, if I chose not to follow Him, I am no better than a sinful and evil man. If I don’t follow God, I am no better than people living in the days of Noah.

And this is one reason why I’m so afraid and ashamed to be out with people. Because I feel so guilty and ashamed of my sins. Because I feel such a hypocrite.

Proverbs 28:1 The wicked man flees though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.

After sinning against God, there are times when I want to “flee from his presence” (Psalm 139:6), yet, as the Psalmist wrote, no matter where I go, God will still be there. I cannot run, I cannot hide, I can only repent.

12/25/2010: Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone!

I’m still a bit too afraid to go on Facebook, so I’m taking my refuge here. Today is Christmas day and I wanted to share some of what I did on video!

Introduction, me singing “Jesus loves the little ones,” “Away in a Manger,” and my Christmas gift!

Me singing “I lift my eyes to the hills.”

 

Good night everyone and sweet dreams!

12/16/2010: The Ten Commandments

S: 6:23pm

E: 6:44pm

I don’t have a lot of time but I really wanted to write this so I won’t lose my thoughts. I am a little over half-way done watching The Ten Commandments. I promised a soldier that I will watch it when I was on guard but, until now, never did. He kept reminding me and bothering me until I finally promised him (I already promised him that I will watch it) that I will watch it tonight. Well, night came and I didn’t watch it. That was awful of me. I can’t believe I broke a promise. For me, I have my own timetable. I promised him that I will watch the movie, but it will be on my timing, and I would like to say that my timing is dependent on God’s. I simply didn’t feel the urge to watch the movie. Until now, until today. The soldier came and told me, “Yeh, if you don’t watch the movie and give me a review of it by tomorrow, I will beat you up..” Wow, what words. So, out of fear, I finally watched it.

And it was wonderful. It was great. One thing I feel I want to teach to everyone. God made Moses a prince of Egypt. If Moses wanted to, he can easily be Pharaoh. Moses eventually knew his fate and his upbringing. One may ask, why don’t become Pharaoh and use his human position and power to “let my people go?” The answer is not easy to accept, but God has his own plan to set his people free. It is not by human power or strength that the Lord saves, but through His will. Moses chose not to serve man or anything of man, including his nation, but he chose to follow God’s leading. Moses chose to follow the heavenly kingdom.

I am currently reading The Invisible War by Chip Ingram and he tells me that there is an unseen world, a spirit world. Thanks to Bible stories he tells, I know that the unseen is greater than the seen. When Elisha was surrounded by Aram’s armies, he told his servant, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (2 Kings 6:16). What was he doing? Can’t he see the obvious? It turns out that he is seeing the obvious. When his servant’s eyes were opened, he saw the unseen armies of God. The armies of Aram were blinded, led like sheep to Israel’s army, and destroyed.

Matthew 26:52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.

53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?

Jesus is the Son of God and Christ of God. He, at his power, can summon up heavenly armies to destroy the mob that was going to capture Him, but He chose not to follow His will, but His Father’s just as Moses chose to follow God’s plan instead of his plan.

The book reaffirms me that the unseen world and the spirit world is real. There is a cosmic battle between good and evil, and although good has already won, evil is still fighting a losing battle. We might put on the whole Armor of God to fight and take a stand.

Help me Lord, to live by faith and to believe on what is unseen. Help me not to be drawn by the things of this world but by the renewing of my mind (Romans 12:12).

It is very easy for anyone, since we are born in the flesh, to focus on what is seen. To focus on pleasure, looks, comfort, material things, and the splendor of this world, but God is asking us to put faith on what is unseen. To put faith on His son, Jesus, to put on “righteousness as [our] clothing” (Job 29:14), and to put on the whole Armor of God. God took away all Job had but because he placed his trust in what is unseen, in God, God gave him everything back and more. When we pray or do spiritual things, we must do them without regard of earthly consequences. God has His own time, He has His own plan, and He knows it all.

看見復興 by 讚美之泉

我們是你的百姓

主你是我們的神

用讚美打開城門

來預備你救恩的道路

 

呼喊吧  神的百姓  呼喊吧

耶和華已將這城交給我們

讓讚美的聲音不停息

如同大水淹沒仇敵

呼喊吧  神的百姓  呼喊吧

耶和華已將這城交給我們

讓讚美的聲音不歇息

直到我們看見復興

Wow, I feel like a fool. I thought the chorus meant, “Bu hai pa (Don’t be afraid).” Oops, but oh well. It’s hard to make promises. Today, I promised God that I will spent at least 2 hours on Him and it has to be my firstfruits of my time. Acutally, it was the rest of today, but I changed it to 2 hours because I knew I couldn’t keep it. Shortly after that, our section got off! I went to my room and started reading Chip Ingram’s book, but shortly, I found myself thinking of doing other things. Near the end of the first hour, I placed my chair (I was sitting while reading) back in front of my laptop and was going to go on OkCupid when my sergeant came and told me to follow him. Wow! I followed him, in shock and asking God’s forgiveness. He went to Davis’ area and told us there is some additional work to do. During our short break for lunch, I went back to my room and prayed, asking God for forgiveness. I knew this was from Him. I broke my promise. I sat down on my chair, trying to squeeze in some sleep when I decided to listen to some 讚美之泉 (Stream of Praise) music. The first song I listened to, at random was the song above. It gave me strength to not give up and continue to follow God. I mess up, I’m weak, but I must still “get up and win the race.” Shortly after that, some guys came in and told us if we give him the keys they can do our job for us. Overjoyed, we gave him the keys and I get to spend my first full hour for God (added 30-minute penalty). That song lifted my spirit up and gave me strength to continue to trust in Him and not give up.

PS: I actually chose that album because the cover has a green leaf on it and since my last name 葉 means leaf… oh well.

10/14/2010: My story as a teacher

10/14/2010: My story as a teacher

S: 8:13am

E: 8:33am

S: 9:35am

E: 11:08am

To start, writing this is difficult for me. I really wanted to do something else, like playing a little bit of computer games. I’m still struggling, but I am getting closer to freedom. This is a long, and I think happiest, chapter of my life. My spirit is telling me to worship God, to spend more time with Him, while my body is telling me to play games and enjoy myself. I may do both, knowing that I cannot worship both God and games. This discovery, or story, will be reedited and will have many add-ons as I remember my memories. Thus, it will take a while to get this published, or maybe I can just publish it and edit it if I have a newer version. In computers, this is called patching, in journal writing, maybe it’s called revising.

After my failure at nursing school at East LA college, I told my dad that I now wanted to be a teacher. I find that as I grow in God and experience new things, I learn and see more about myself. I grow more confident of my abilities, more aware of myself, and things I previously thought impossible is possible. Before, I thought being a social worker, although it is very appealing to me, as impossible. I can’t speak very well, I stutter, I’m not very conversational, I don’t have social skills, I don’t have friends, I don’t know enough of this world to help people or myself :(, etc. So, I crossed out “social worker” early in my life because I felt diffident about my abilities. Now, as I grow more in God and life, I grow more confident (Phil. 4:13), and decided that being a social worker would be more perfect for me. The more I know about myself and the more I trust in God, the closer I get to my dream job, my career bull’s-eye.

My dad believed it is always important to not only get the education for the career, but also to gain some practical experience, if only to look good when applying for a career-related job. Before I joined the nursing school, I volunteered at a local hospital, the San Gabriel Valley Medical Center. Then, I went to PCC and took the nursing assistant class so I can be certified as a CNA. As I wrote in my last story (my story as a nurse), I didn’t finish the class because I was too afraid. I didn’t have a solid enough relationship with God back then to carry me through life. Now, since I wanted to be a teacher, my parents encouraged me to find a teaching job so I can gain more experience and see if it really is a job for me.

This time, my mom helped me out. My mom noticed an education center just a block away from my house called “SINWA Education Institute.” Wow, my mom is a lot more aware of her surroundings than me. All this time I’ve been living here, I never knew an education center behind Papa John’s. We planned for a day to come in, impromptu and all, and the day came.

I remember my first feelings. I was afraid, nervous, and scared. I’m afraid that whoever the manager is would reject me outright. I’m glad I didn’t go in alone; what I feared might actually happen. One thing that comforted me and gave me courage is that my mom is going with me and I know she’s excellent with people. She calmed me down and told me to just trust in God. “God will take care of everything,” she said. I remember praying with her right before going in. Getting out of the car (my mom suggested walking, but I was too nervous to show myself to the world), ringing the doorbell, and getting inside the classroom is equivalent to the invasion of Normandy for me. The principal, Mrs. Wu, greeted us and my mom exchanged friendly greetings. I said “hello” and smiled. I can be very warm with people, but it takes time and at that time, I was afraid to show myself completely. I never been to an interview, the one at McDonalds doesn’t count because I had 100% confidence I could land the job, anyone can get into that job, right (that was how I thought back then)? Now, in this proper interview, I had no idea how to act, so I acted reserved but friendly. I think I remember being a little more relaxed after the prayer. I felt a new sense of confidence and assurance, but, I was still nervous.

My mom and Mrs. Wu connected almost immediately. They started talking about their lives, experiences, as well as my life and experiences. Then, they started talking in Taiwanese! I had no idea what they were saying. Are they talking bad about me, etc? I remember myself talking to Mrs. Wu, too, and telling her why I wanted this job. I forgot what I said though. I also met Mr. Wu, her husband and the assistant principal. From their first impressions, they were very nice and cordial to me. Mrs. Wu told me I should volunteer first to get some experience. I agreed immediately. I’m just so happy to get experience working with children! She told me she would have to conduct some background checks and other clearances before I can actually start my job as a tutor. I had to go through the same when working as a nurse, so I understood the concept. I think from her first impression, she saw me as a kind, although a bit nervous, trustworthy person. I am to start next Monday, so I have the rest of the week to prepare myself. When my mom and I walked out of the education center, I beamed a smile at her and told her thank you. I was so happy at the success and miracle. It was much better than my best expectations. God is such a wonderful, loving God, the God who gives me second chances.

The day as a tutor-intern came. I am to come at 2:45pm. As always, I was scared, shy, and nervous. What will the children think about me? How many will there be? Will I be able to get along and teach them effectively? I walked in the noisy classroom. Mrs. Wu was at the door and greeted me. I looked at the classroom and was surprised to see that there is no tutor. All the students were just doing their homework by themselves. Mrs. Wu’s office desk is at the south-west corner of the room, so there was some control at the noise. I see mostly elementary school level students. Some of them are doing their homework; others are talking with their classmates. When I first walked in, I was expecting an “all eyes on me” type entrance. However, I was relieved when only a few looked up at me. After a brief discourse, Mrs. Wu then announced to the class that I would be their new tutor. “Okay everybody [clap] [clap], here is your new tutor, Steven, and he will help you on your homework. If you have any questions, raise your hand and Steven will come and help you. Steven, would you like to introduce yourself to the class?” I was taken aback at her sudden introduction and wasn’t prepared to be discovered yet. While slowly walking to the front of the class, I smiled, waved my hands at everybody and said, “hello everyone. I’m Steven Yeh and I will be your new tutor. I am 19 years old and I finished high school.” Seriously, I didn’t know what to say and I stuttered a bit at first. I’m not used to having people, even children, stare at me. I became very shy, but nice and polite to everybody. I also, for the first few months, never stopped smiling. After a while, the kids told me why am I always smiling? A girl told me I was scaring her. I told them I am just very happy to be with you guys and help. Being with children always seems to make me very happy. There is something about the innocence and naturalness of children that I’m allured to. Maybe I have it too. I think if the whole world were like them (the good side), the world would be a much better place. The kids convinced me to stop smiling so much because I was scaring them, so I tried to look normal. However, throughout my job as a tutor, I would frequently go to a private place and just smile broadly because I can’t help it! I just feel so happy to be with children and to help them. I am just so happy to be with God’s people, my reference to children (Matt. 18:3, 19:14, 18:10).

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14

In the beginning, I just stood watching kids do their homework and waiting for a hand to come up. Then, I would ask the students who were talking to do their homework. They looked at me with fearful eyes and obeyed. Initially, they would be fearful of me, naturally, because I am a stranger to them, but after a week, the children start to warm up to me. They became less afraid. A few took a month, and I remember a girl, in third-grade, who never really trusted me. S (first initial of her name, to protect privacy) would always be silent to her peers and to me, quietly do her homework, and ignore everything else. Even if she made mistakes on her paper, or doesn’t know how to do something, she wouldn’t ask for help. She would just sit there, head down, looking at her paper. I have to make my rounds and observe that she needs help. And, when I explained the concept to her, she wouldn’t ask any questions! She would look at me with her fearful eyes, make a slight nod and get back to her work. I checked her work afterwards and many times, she actually understood what I was telling her. After a while, I wouldn’t go so near her if I wasn’t checking her work because she tenses up every time I was close. Personally, I believe she might be a victim of child abuse. I saw her dad (her parents divorced) and he looked scary, with a full beard, grey-white hair, wrinkled skin, and other complexion. It seems strange, but at that time, I didn’t take any action. I was afraid and what if I was wrong? Every time I talk to S, as with most of my students, I would kneel down to her eye-level, and talk gently and softly to her. She’s afraid of people, so I need to gain her trust first, but, I never did. I remember praying for her and asking Jesus to heal her. I don’t remember if I ever talk to her about Jesus or not. There was a few times when she actually talked to me and asked questions, but that was rare. And, lastly, I never remembered her laughing or even smiling.

After a few days of volunteering as a tutor, my boss, Mrs. Wu, told me I am spending too much time with the wrong students. She took a blank sheet of paper and wrote a list of children’s names starting with those that need the most help. She told me if I were to become a teacher, I need to have a plan. I need to identify who needs help and who doesn’t. She wrote about sixteen names and I used it as a guide. Later on, I used the list as a prayer list and added new names when new students come. My original plan was to use the list to pray for my students every day, but after awhile, I never sticked to the plan. I would start to pray for them and then I became lazy and stopped. I only prayed for my students from time to time, not daily, and it was a mistake I made. Had I prayed for my students daily, many of them would have gone closer to God.

Mrs. Wu told me that once I start teaching summer school (I started volunteering in May), I will get paid. To be honest, I was going to tell her that it’s fine, that I’ll do it for free. Teaching and helping children is so fun that I’m willing to do it for free. In fact, I may even consider paying to do this. I finally found a job where I’m not working, but playing.

I thought at first that teaching the kids would be one-way: they raise their hands, and I give them the knowledge. What I discovered later on was that the kids are teaching me too. In fact, it seems every day when I go to teach, they are teaching me more than what I’m teaching them. I may teach them math, English, science, etc, but they are teaching me life skills: how to get along with people, the experience of being and talking to people. Plus, when teaching them, I also learn some of these basic subjects, too. I remember opening up a student’s algebra book and reading the content and “reviewing” myself before actually teaching him. I just look at the examples and quickly remembered what to do. I don’t want to look dumb in front of my students, so I would just quickly go over the lesson and teach. If I still don’t know, I would tell the truth to him but tell him that I would get back to him on this tomorrow. Sometimes however, the truth is too hard because it makes me look like a dumbass so I would be mean to cover myself. It’s sad, and looking back, I should have just told the truth 100% of the time. I would also take pictures of the algebra book (I still have them!), page-by-page, and then look through it once I get home. That way, for his next math lesson, I would know what to do.

Back in that lonely time of my life, I had no friends. No friends in college (PCC), no friends in church (I mean no close friends), just, no close friends in my life. So, when I began working, and throughout my short career, they became my friends. I would joke with them, make them laugh, talk about my life when I was a child, etc, and they would tell me their stories, and their “secrets.” One girl, C, in first-grade, would always raise her hand just so she can talk to me. For the longest time, I though she really needed help, but then Mrs. Wu told me, “Can’t you see, she’s using you. She knows how to do her homework. You help someone else,” and she came up to C and scolded her about wasting my precious time. In truth, although she may pretend to not know how to do something (she seems she really doesn’t know), I still enjoyed teaching and talking to her. Often, she would gesture with her hands for me to come forward and then, making a cup with her hands and holding it to her mouth, she would whisper in my ear a “secret.” I would listen attentively and tell her I won’t tell anyone. I never did, and, now, I forgot all of her “secrets.”

As I continue teaching and tutoring, I began to grow afraid because I am becoming like them. I’m not sure if other elementary or middle-school teachers have this problem, but I feel myself reverting to a child again. If I were to go back in time, to fifth-grade, but with the same brain, I would more likely than not act like I was in fifth grade. If I took the pill Detective Conan took, I may actually act like a child. It would be hard for me to go against the flow and resist.

I feel, looking back, that me being with children and teaching them is a wonderful gift from God. My childhood has been altered and messed with due to my ADHD Ritalin pill. I don’t remember most of my childhood life. Now, at 19 and working at a tutoring center, I feel God is healing my childhood by giving me experiences with children that I never had. Their memories and experiences became part of my memories and experiences. For that, I am very grateful for the wonderful gift God has given me. It reminds me that He is faithful and does all things well.

————————————–

11/18/2010

S: 1:27am

E:

You know, from now on, I’m going to share my stories not chronologically, but individually, through each student. Every one of my students has a story to share.

Right now, I am on guard duty with Sgt. Rivera. Normally, I would feel tired, but I feel the Lord giving me some additional strength lately. Praise the Lord. Sgt. Rivera is currently taking child psychology and writing her final essay. Curiously, I decided to skim through her textbook. The book is filled with theories and viewpoints. Inside me, I already know a lot about children because the Bible teaches me about people. I feel the best theory, no, the truth, comes from the knowledge of God through His Word. With my Bible, I understand almost everything. I skimmed and saw one topic that interested me: “Morality, Altruism, and Aggression.” I looked through the chapter and especially Kohlberg’s theory of moral development. In it, I found that conscience comes from God, and those who learn God’s ways tend to be in the later stages. I immediately remembered my method of teaching children about morality during my tutoring years. It was then when I wanted to tell my story as a teacher through the stories each of my students gave me.

When I discipline my students (I call them my “children”) or teaching them right from wrong, I tried to invoke their God-given conscience. I believe that every child, deep inside, knows right from wrong. I have a seventh-grader at that time, named Brian, who always gets into trouble by hurting people. He’s very smart; he’s taking algebra at that time; but he also does evil things. He would cuss, make fun of, and insult at fellow students, especially students younger than him. He would throw stuff at them, or do evil pranks that make other students cry. For a time, I asked Mrs. Wu to remove him because he’s being such a troublemaker, however, probably due to money and her mother being involved in transporting students to our center, my boss resisted. This is sad. Every time he gets in trouble, which is, in my memory, everyday, I would always try to appeal to his conscience. I remember despite his evil, I am always still loving, kind, forgiving, but also just to him.

Every time he does evil, I always ask, “Brain, why are you doing this?”

“Because it’s fun,” Brain would reply.

“I know its fun. It’s fun for you, but it’s not fun for them” I said.

Sometimes, then, he would say that I’m wrong; that the other party also has fun when he’s doing things to them. To that, I ask questions. I want him to see that the other side is not having fun.

“How is he having fun?” I asked. “Look, he’s crying” or “See, he’s sad. He doesn’t want you to bother him.”

That usually is enough to stop his self-justification. Then, I would continue.

“Brain, you know hurting others is wrong. You need to do the right thing.”

And then he could complain, even try to dispute that he’s wrong, but I feel deep inside, he knows what’s right and wrong.

I try to teach my children stage 6 of Kohlberg’s theory of moral development. I dislike punishing them like giving them time-outs, being mean to them, withholding love, etc, because these methods don’t teach them the real reason to do good. They should do good because it is the right thing to do. And, I call them my “children” because God has entrusted me these kids for a period of time. They are my children from 2:30 to 5pm.

There’s a cartoon from my SOG’s (sergeant of the guard) textbook that I want to share with you:

Principle: [Sitting and angrily pointing his finger at kid] Ira, you will be punished if I ever catch you cheating again!

Kid: Yes, sir.

[Next scene]

Kid: [to teacher] Mr. Grimmis wants me to cheat more carefully.

Ha! Lol. I think it’s funny, but I think it also teaches an important lesson. If we don’t invoke their conscience, the real reason why to do the right thing, these kids will never learn it. They will learn not to do wrong things not because it’s wrong, but so they won’t get into trouble. Martin Luther King Jr. said in a sermon that our society is changing from a conscience-based society to a punish-based one:

“Midnight is the hour when men desperately seek to obey the eleventh commandment, ‘Thou shalt not get caught.’ According to the ethic of midnight the cardinal sin is to be caught and the cardinal virtue is to get by. It is all right to lie, but one must lie with real finesse. It is all right to steal, if one is so dignified that, if caught, the charge becomes embezzlement, not robbery. It is permissible even to hate, if one so dresses his hating in the garments of love that hating appears to be loving. The Darwinian concept of the survival of the fittest has been substituted by a philosophy of the survival of the slickest. This mentality has brought a tragic breakdown of moral standards, and the midnight of moral degeneration deepens.”

If we don’t teach kids right and wrong, the real reason why to do good and the real reason why not to do evil, then kids will eventually adopt the survival of the “slickest.” They can do evil as long as they don’t’ get caught.

For Brian, I wanted to change him to become a better person. Working hours is not enough time so I played tennis with him and gave him my number so he can call me in case he needs help on his homework. I want to be an example of love and kindness. I want to be a role-model to him.

I got some stories to tell. There are times when I talked to him on the phone for more than an hour helping him on his essay. I joked with him and talked nicely to him. I want to be a friend as well as his mentor. I remember going to my computer, helping him find information, going to my family’s encyclopedia collection, to alternating in the kitchen talking to him. After the conversation, my dad would often ask who called me. I told him I was helping one of my students. My dad, however, would rebuke me for wasting my time on others. I disagree, however. I want to spend my time to help others because it’s the right thing to do. My purpose in life is to help people.

And then there are the tennis games. Sometimes we would play at Washington School, other times at Garvy Park (by Hellman Ave.). Although I played better than him, I still suck too. I remember seeing his disappointment when I kept hitting the net when serving or taking my first or second shot. I remember waiting for a long time, with my bicycle and tennis racket waiting for him to show up. Once, he never did, but that didn’t stop me from trying to connect with him.

Brian’s mom, as I said before, helped to transport some of my students to the center. I told her many times about her son’s bad behavior but, in the end, she told me she tried to do everything to help him but failed. She asked me to help her by helping him. I realized their family is divorced. Brian doesn’t have a father and I was told that might be a cause of his aggression. Well, then, I will be a male role-model for him. Slowly, towards the end of my tutoring tenure, I sensed Brian is becoming a better person.

Unfortunately, I joined the Army before I can fully change him. The last, or second to last day in LA, I invited Brian to play tennis. He brought some of his friends along. It was there when I told him I’m joining the Army and I said good-bye. I tried to contact him once during my Christmas leave, but he didn’t answer. I hope he becomes a better person and I hope he becomes closer to God.

Work in progress….

1/27/2010

I finally got internet again. Praise God! I really don’t know who I’m writing these notes to. Many times, I would have so much things to write about and say but when it comes to an opportunity, like this, I suddenly grow afraid. If God knows everything, why am I writing this? I think writing this is a good way for me to be connected to God’s family, but…. I might just keep my privacy settings to “only me” so facebook would be for myself and I won’t be afraid.

I am reading “21 Reasons Bad Things Happen to Good People” by Dave Early (one of the books I brought at the PX). I am currently at reason number 8, but reading this book so inspires me and it touches my heart. Many of the reasons why bad things happen to good people pertains to me. I began to understand formally why suffering is such a good thing. Before, in basic and AIT, I suffered everyday harshly, yet, it was during those times when I was close to God. Now, I’m also suffering everyday. Yes, everyday is a life-threating day for me, yet, I have faith, and with faith, I am happy. I praise God that I can be happy, to smile, under harsh conditions. When my platoon had extra things to do, I wasn’t angry, many soldiers in my platoon are, but I wasn’t. I was at peace and content because I know God is watching over me. I know God knows and feels my pain. I am happy to know that I have an intercessor whom I can turn to. God knows pain because Jesus felt the ultimate pain by dying on the cross for our sins.

I must have more faith. Everyday is a day of faith. Everyday requires me to have faith. Faith to live my life to the fullest knowing that God is taking care of me. During my early days in this unit, the one fruit I kept focusing on is patience, is endurance. I had to learn to endure the harshness of life, to just trust in God. I believe now, it’s about faith. I must have faith that no matter what happens, God is in control.

Like today. Yesterday, our platoon did heavy work and most of us were tired and grumbling. I think they shouldn’t grumble. They are much stronger physically than me. When I start to grumble, it is for real. I feel ready to give up. I really feel pain, but I refuse to let others know. I’m afraid what might happen to me if I express my weaknesses. They may misjudge me. The only person that needs to know my pain and my weaknesses is God. Now today, our platoon had to help others out, since we got ours done early. I felt tired and stressed out. Many soldiers in my platoon were also grumbling too. I kept saying to God, “Lord, I love you and you are my God, but this is just too hard/much for me.” I cried and asked God to help me. I refuse and cannot blame God. It’s not his fault, it’s mine because I am just so weak. It was during that time when things became better. I was able to find time to rest in my room (legally because everyone else thinks I’m still at a meeting) and I was able to get internet again from a soldier in my platoon. Three weeks before deployment and he still chooses to order internet? I don’t understand, but, praise God. I was able to update ALL my 睡夢鄉 (Land of Dreams) Chinese children Christian song into youtube. Hey, I promised to post at least one song per day, but since I didn’t have internet, I was making Christian videos all the time. I still have a few select Land of Dream storybooks to upload. Wow, it is such a wonderful pleasure to be able to do God’s work. It is such a blessing. I feel so happy listening to the songs of my youth, but happier still, that I’m able to share them. I received an e-mail telling me that the particular series wasn’t available in Singapore. Praise God.

So please, if you can understand Chinese, visit carbon191’s channel (me) and listen to some Chinese Christian children songs. They are wonderful.

I am still very weak, but God is helping me everyday. I want to suffer now. Suffering is a good thing because it draws me closer to God. It develops my character. It makes me a more mature Christian. It allows me to grow. God is near the broken-hearted. Amen. By saying I want to suffer, that’s wrong. I don’t want to suffer, but if suffering allows me to be a better Christian, than so be it. As long as God is watching me, even though at times, it may not seem so, I want to say that I am willing to suffer.

1/12/10

1/12/10

 

Hello everyone!

I’m only back for a few minutes. Heh, it’s nice being the driver for a humvee; I get to go back to the rear more often, but the bad thing is I have to drive more. I used to hate driving, I would much rather ride my bike. Now, my attitudes are changing.

I’m trying not to be afraid of what other people think of me. The only person I am trying to please is God. I only fear God.

Field is getting tougher especially towards the end. Many times, I would ask God to make it easier for me and He did make it easier. There are times when I just want to give up cause there’s so much bullshit (excuse me), but it is when I am on the verge when God arrives to help me. I need to have faith. I need to have more faith that God will help me, that he will not give me anything beyond what I can bear. With faith, I can move mountains!

Singing Chinese Christian songs really help me to get through my day. It gives me hope and makes me feel better. Of course, I try not to sing it aloud.

12/19/09

12/19/09

S: 0505
E: 0508

Wow, praise God. I can finally go home. I’m so happy. Remember Steven, that you need to ovey God and serve Him. I have a lot of plans once I get back home. I need to do them because God’s work comes first. Help me God, not to be afraid. To be strong. Honestly, I’m scared about talking to my church, but I need to because they are in my family.

The most important and only thing I will do will be to worship God. I will not, will not play games. I can’t waste my time on this world again.

Protect me Lord, guide me.

9/5/09

9/5/09

S: 9:41pm
E: 9:45pm

I don’t have time to waste my time. I decided to keep that on. But another more pressing thing is on me. I’m afraid. Afraid. I need to follow God and serve Him more. But I’m not sure if Facebook is really honoring God. I’m going to promise God that I’m just going to use Facebook once a day. Yes, once a day. Until I finish memorizing Psalms and Matthew. I still haven’t forgotten the promise. I am bound to my vow. It’s going to be painful and hard, but I must do it. I must be faithful to my Lord.

I’m afraid, afraid. Opening myself is a scary thing to do. I need to put a guard over my mouth. I need to watch myself. Be careful, be villigiant. Help me God. Protect me.