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!

One Busy Week

We had a busy week with a 5-days long seminar on Nurturing Third Culture Kids. On Tuesday, we had a community dinner, on Thursday, Kok Mun and Mayron dropped by for a visit and on Friday we invited a couple of residents over for dinner.

This is the second community dinner that we had and there are new friends dropping by for a visit and to join us in enjoying the meal prepared by the residents and as usual, the varieties of food is just too good to resist!

On Friday, we had friends who came over to our apartment for dinner. From left to right, Sharon, Darren, Kok Mun, Mayron, Leslie Williams and Charles Weller.

Sharon even managed to squeeze in time to make some tasty "Char Siew Pau" during the week. In the photo, she is in the midst of wrapping the meat in the dough before steaming it. We have yet to find a store in New Haven that sells this! Maybe she should start a business here?

Kok Mun (brother in law) and Mayron drove for 12 hours from Charlotte, North Carolina to see us. We had a great time and they also left their car behind for us to drive around until we leave. That is great, right? No, that is not the car they left behind, it is the rental car that they will be driving back to Charlotte.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

William Howard Doane & OMSC

Not many of us have heard of William Howard Doane, but if you were to look through the hymnals in your church you would find his name appearing again and again as he had composed many of the hymns that we sing every Sunday. He has also worked with Fanny Crosby on many others in their life time. He is the father of two daughters, Marguerite and Ida Doane.

OMSC owes her existence to the vision of the two Doane sisters, Marguerite and Ida who conceived the idea of "Houses of Fellowship" for missionaries returning home on furlough. They saw the needs of the missionaries and founded a place to house them.

These houses provided a welcoming rest for tired missionaries who often do not have a place to call their own. The "Houses of Fellowship" started in 1922 in Ventnor by the the Sea, on Absecon Island, New Jersey. For many years it served the returning missionaries, providing a place of rest and hospitality.

It was later renamed Overseas Ministries Study Center in 1967 to reflect a change in their goals. Now, besides providing rest and hospitality, it included a series of classes and lectures on biblical, theological and cross-cultural topics in their programs. It moved to New Haven, Connecticut in 1987 as a result of a survey among the returning missionaries who indicated that they were pursuing advanced educational degrees during their furloughs. After much deliberation, New Haven, Connecticut was chosen as it was near Yale University Divinity School's Day Missions Library. It is now located at 490 Prospect St. New Haven, Connecticut. The full content of the history of OMSC in PDF format can be downloaded here.

Having said that, we are reminded of the legacy and contribution by William Howard Doane in the music and hymns that we sing. We cannot help but be amazed by the richness of the theology and the music that was written. I have been singing "To God be the Glory", "I am thine O Lord", "Pass me not O gentle Savior" and "Near the Cross" for as long as I can remember but it did not occur to me to look up the author for the lyrics or the music! And now I am benefiting from the legacy of the Doanes on my furlough here in OMSC.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Visit to Carnegie Hall in New York

We were invited by the Korean community to attend a worship concert present by the Milal Missionary Choir that was held on the 3rd October 2010 in the Carnegie Hall in New York. We jumped at the opportunity to see and to sit in the world famous hall. On our way there, we stopped in Korea town where everything we see tells us that we were in Korea rather than New York! We shopped in a Korean supermarket H-mart and had dinner in a Sam Won Gahk, a Korean Chinese restaurant and thoroughly enjoyed our evening in New York.

The interior of the Carnegie Hall where I managed to take a couple of photos before I was stopped by the hall attendants who told me that we were not allowed to take photos within the hall without prior permission.

Sharon and her Korean friends Hye Sook and Young Ran in the lobby of the hall.

We were having our dinner in Sam Won Gahk, one of the many Korean restaurants found in the Korean town. The bowls of noodles were huge and very tasty, forgotten what they were called in Korean but you can take a look at their menu ! It was a treat given by the Korean residents.

Darren sitting beside Joy Chul , with Grace Chul next to her and Grace Jung waiting for our food to arrive!

A Christian Heritage Tour of Yale

We went on a tour of Yale yet again, this time with Jon Hinkson who retold the story of the beginning of Yale university from a Christian perspective. It was an educational tour that took us back to the early beginning when Yale was set up by faithful men who saw the importance of education, not for economic reasons but in order that they could minister the word of God rightly. Sadly, this heritage is now lost to the thousands of graduates who see the degree more as means to greater economic opportunities.


Our journey started from the Phelps Gate, the entrance to the old campus where many of the colleges that housed the freshmen are located.

We were introduced to Reverend John Davenport who first initiated the idea of a college; From a humble and difficult beginning, it has now become a great institution. Like an acorn, it has now grown into a great oak tree with its branches spread over a wide area.

We rested in the college of Jonathan Edwards who entered Yale when he was only 13 years old, he left behind a legacy of faithfulness that still inspires many of us.

We heard the legacy of Noah Webster who created the world's first dictionary, yet none of these people were rich in the sense of the word, but they gave the generations that came after them a world of opportunity through what they left behind!

We had a glimpse of the very first bible ever printed; the Gutenberg Bible displayed behind glass panels lest it is destroyed by the environment and human contact! It is located in the Beinecke Rare Books Library in Yale where the books are stored behind glass panels with a fire suppression system that would suck out all the air in the storage area creating a vacuum to put out the fire; Question: What about the librarians working in the area at the time of the fire? Your guess is as good as mine!

The interior of the Beinecke Library with the center core displaying the rare books.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Common bond that binds - Food!

We had our first Community Dinner last night and were we stuffed! There were so much food that we had to ask everyone to take some back. It is a monthly event that is organised to bring the community closer. As the staff members will also be present, it is a good time to get together. Each group has a specific task, main dish duties are coupled with organising a program for the night; then there is a group that is to prepare different kinds of salads, another group to prepare desserts and the last group to clean and wash up. Each month the duties will be rotated among the four groups! It was a harrowing time for some as they are not sure of what to prepare or what to do! but in the end they all did extremely well. The evening meal went without a hitch and we all had a great time sharing food and having fun with the staff and residents.

Though we had lots of food, it was not the most important, it was about the people who had put their hearts into it to make it happen. It was about a diverse group of people from different nationalities coming together as a family in Christ!

The next evening we invited some new friends over to our apartment for a home-cooked dinner. Sharon prepared Malaysian styled curry chicken, sweet sour prawns, steam egg pudding with dried scallops, pan-fried vegetables, home-made soya bean milk and seaweed soup. An enlightening evening meal with 2 Yale students, one from Divinity School and the other from the Law School. The were two other friends, an Iraqi lady (a refugee) and a TTC professor Dr Pan.