Monday, November 29, 2010

New York! New York! in a Day

We decided to visit New York on a Saturday morning during the thanksgiving weekend break. We drove from New Haven CT all the way to Flushing in Queens. We found a municipal car park that charged us US$4 for 12 hours. We reckon that it would be easier for us to use the Metro than to try to drive in downtown New York. Even though it was a thanksgiving weekend, the traffic was pretty heavy.

Sharon and Darren standing on Broadway looking at the billboards for the many shows and musicals that is available everyday. The huge displays clamour for our attention. Hey, watch me!, try me! and wear me!

There was a huge crowd of tourist that thronged Broadway with thousands more walking the streets and the avenues. Manhattan island is crisscrossed with streets and avenues and finding our way around is quite a nightmare if we do not have any bearings or landmarks to make a reference. And because of the tall buildings, the GPS does not really work properly! As a rough guide, I found out that Avenues run North to South and streets run East to West with Broadway Avenue running diagonally across the island and Seventh Avenue roughly in the centre. Therefore, if you are walking about in Manhattan, increasing street numbers means that you are heading North!

A Hershey's chocolate building that beckoned us to enter!

Sharon and Darren trying to pick out some chocolates inside the shop!

Taking a breather on Broadway!

Having a lunch break in Central park, well we had sandwiches, roast chicken, apples and coke! What else!

Notice the layers of clothes we are bundled in! The temperature was around 5°C, but the wind chill factor made it even colder. I had on four layers of clothing, and Sharon is wearing two jackets!

Standing in front of the Staten Island ferry station near Battery Park, the southern most end of Manhattan island.

We found out that the ferry ride to Staten Island is free and it takes roughly 25 mins each way plus a grand view of the Statue of Liberty along the way.

Standing on the deck aboard the ferry waiting for it to depart, many felt that the Staten Island ferry ride is something you should not miss!

The Stature of Liberty in a distance, there is always a long queue on the island, if you look carefully, you would see the people just in front of the beachfront lining up!

Darren all bundled up in layers too on the ferry

The Manhattan skyline minus the two towers!

At the Metro station waiting for the train to take us back to Flushing in Queens to collect our car.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Day

"The First Thanksgiving" by Jennie Augusta Brownscombe
This day, 25th November, we join the Americans in remembering their first thanksgiving in 1621. With a thankful heart, we too remember God's goodness and providence in making our stay in New Haven a possibility. It was almost 2 years ago that I applied for a place in OMSC, and today we are already into our third month and our first thanksgiving.

As I look back, I am grateful to the many people who had helped to make this trip possible, giving advice, approving leave from work and their prayers. So I give thanks to God for who He is and what He has done and what He is continuing to do.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Lecture by Dr Peter Kuzmic

Our time in OMSC is not all rest and play, we are into serious seminars all through the months of our residence. Each seminar lasts a week taught by leading experts that hail from different countries. So far we had lectures by Janet Blomberg & Libby on "Nurturing and Educating Third Culture Kids", Dr Duane H Elmer on "Conflict Resolution", Dr Jean-Paul Wiest on "Doing Oral History", Dr Peter Kuzmic on "Mission in an Era of Globalisation" and Professor Andrew F Walls on "The Church on Six Continents"

These people have given their time to spend a week teaching us from their experiences and their lives and they have been a great blessing to many of us

Dr Peter Kuzmic illustrating a point with a Bible in one hand and newspapers in the other.

A photo of Jeremy, Chee Seng, Sharon & Dr Peter Kuzmic after the lecture

A photo of the group that participated in this lecture

Friday, October 29, 2010

A Treat at Red Robin Gourmet Burgers

I went to a New Red Robin Gourmet Burger restaurant in The Connecticut Post in Milford today to celebrate my successful driving test and to give my friend George a treat for his help. We arrived at the Red Robin at about 12 PM and as we were about to enter through the deck area door, we were stopped by a couple of guys sitting at the tables who told us that the restaurant was not opened for business yet. We turned around to leave and then he said to us. "Go right in through the door and get to the front and tell them that Mike sent you in" We did just that and we were ushered to a table and a smiling lady named Lake took our orders. I ordered a Royal Red Robin Burger and George ordered a Red Robin Cheese Burger. Both of these came with a bottomless supply of fries! (unlimited refills). We found out later that Mike was the VP of the company and today was an invitation only entry.

The burgers were great and huge! and the fries were tasty, soft and not too salty. We were also given a plate of Nachos topped with chili and cheese on the house. We could hardly finish the food and had to asked for takeaway containers. We got the bill and guess how much it cost? Nothing! Everything was on the house today as a kind of test run for the actual opening on 1 Nov 2010!

Royal Red Robin Burger®

This is what I got for lunch! FREE!

Getting a US Driving Licence

It was a humbling experience applying for a Connecticut State driving licence. With more than 30 years of driving behind me, I thought that it would be a breeze to apply and sit for the test and eventually get a licence! I was wrong!

When I left for the US, I forgot to apply for an international driving licence, which was basically a translated version of the local driving licence in Malaysia. I was told that I cannot drive with a local driving licence and checking with the DMV of Connecticut, I found that I had to sit for an eight hour adult driving course which was a course on understanding traffic signs & regulations and the dangers of driving under influence of alcohol. I had to pay USD125 for that course which was conducted over two days in a local driving school.

Having done that, I received a certificate that I submitted to the DMV, paid USD40 that allowed me to sit for a knowledge test at the DMV. It was fully computerised and all I had to do was to answer 20 questions correctly. You are also given 5 extra questions in case you made some mistakes. I had no trouble giving all correct answers to the first 20 questions, and I thought that the road test should be just as easy.

I was mistaken; I took the test in early October in Bridgeport, Connecticut and the tester failed me for several mistakes. I did not look over my shoulders while changing lanes; I chose the wrong lane, I stopped too long at a blinking yellow light and I drove too fast on a 25 mph road! I was speechless when he said that I failed.

I paid another US40 to set another day for the test, fourteen days away. I went home crestfallen that day and was determined to do the better the next time.

The second test was brief but just as traumatic, I failed again. The tester said that I chose the wrong lane again. I said what! And he explained that in Connecticut, it is a moving violation to turn into the center lane at an intersection and that my tires touched the white lines at the stop sign!! Another USD 40 and another appointment for the third test.

I was bitterly disappointed and felt that the testers were too strict and unfair! I was penalised for the slightest mistakes. So on my third try, 29 October 2010, I did not carry my hopes too high, I was prepared to fail again. I went there, submitted the papers, there was a small hiccup but it was rectified after some phone calls to the insurance agency. I waited for the testers to call my name. The first two testers were men whom I had sized up to be 'tough' and this time round as I heard my name being called, "Mr Chee" I saw this African American lady tester walking towards me.

I told her that this was my third try and I was a nervous wreck, but she gave me the most encouraging words, and asked me where I failed and she told me to watch out for them. We drove around the block uneventfully and at the end of the 15 mins when we came back to the DMV, she said I passed! I was ecstatic! I passed!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Visit to the Pequot Museum

We had an opportunity to visit the Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center, located to the Northeast OMSC, about 63 miles away in the Mystic county. It is an impressive building with the lobby shaped like a huge wigwam. It retells the story of the Pequot people driven into extinction by wars and sickness (smallpox). The untold suffering of the 'first world people', 'natives' or 'original people' is often repeated across the world. They will loose their homes, their land and their very existence to 'civilization' and development.

This is the group of missionaries and the residents of OMSC posing for a group photo in the lobby of the museum.

Sharon posing for a photo in the observation tower platform, 18 storeys high that had a commanding view of the entire land.

We had our lunch in the museum cafeteria that served local delights, but most of us had brought along our own lunches.

A photo of the lobby taken from the balcony of the cafeteria that overlooks the whole area. In the background, there are the wax figures of the Pequot people in the two dugout canoes.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Autumn Colours

We took a long drive along a picturesque road (highway 169) in Connecticut that wound its way through the farmland dotted with beautiful houses. The leaves were brilliant red, orange and yellow. It was a good thing that we made this trip to watch the beautiful scenery as the leaves will have all fallen in another week in preparation for winter!

We stopped by a Farmhouse Barn called Golden Lamb for lunch, and we met a few Democrats who greeted us by the gate!

It was a beautiful and sunny Saturday morning, but it gets really cold when the wind starts to blow!

We stopped beside the road to take photos of the trees with beautiful bright yellow leaves

Apple picking time! We get to pick our own apples at $1.29 per lb, the trees were drooping with the ripe apples and the ground was littered with it too.

We are inside the barn restaurant waiting for our food to be served! They had the heater on, so it was warm and cosy. It is a great place to spend the afternoon!

One of the orders that we made! This is the Beef Wellington, made American style!