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.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Day at the Guilford Fair

It was a beautiful Saturday morning at 8.30AM when we set off for the Guilford Fair that comes to town once a year. It took us about 30 mins to get to the place where it was held, somewhere off the Interstate 95 highway. It is an old fashioned fun fair that attracts families from all around the town

It is a mix of carnival rides, games stalls, farm animal display, children's art and craft competitions, food stalls and a circus. It was preceded by a parade that brought out the whole town! We were lining the streets watching bands, clubs of various kinds, scouts, karate and hockey. There were politicians who also went about meeting the town folks. (See my Facebook album)

One of the many marching bands that paraded through the street, and take a look at the old English costumes they are wearing. Once upon a time Connecticut too was a colony of the British Empire (There were originally 13 colonies in USA then)

Darren standing near the fence that surrounds the circus with the ring-master in the background.

The main street where the stalls sell food, gifts and toys and clothes. There are also games stalls and fun rides for the children.

One of the several animal stalls where the farm animals are put on display, there were cows, goats, sheep, pigs and chickens.

A newly shaved and sheepish looking sheep (pun intended) that was among the exhibits

Friday, September 10, 2010

Evening meal alfresco style!

We had a special dinner organised by the staff right outside our apartment at the patio area. There were hamburgers, frankfurters, chicken, pasta, chili beans, salads, chowder soda drinks and ice cream! We were stuffed and very grateful to the staff who had prepared all these for us.

Darren who is clearly enjoying himself, digging into the chicken, chili beans and franks!

This is the kitchen where all the food preparation took place. It is completely functional and will be used to hold cooking and baking classes for the residents!

Visiting Churches in New Haven

One of the first program that was arranged for us as new residents of OMSC was a tour of the diverse church community found in the city. We visited the earliest church founded more than 300 years ago to the youngest which is barely a year old. The diversity speaks of a God who is able to work through different cultures and issues, reaching out to those seeking Him.

We are standing outside one of the very first church in New Haven, built in the year 1813, but the members came from the descendants of the first colonists who sailed the Atlantic to settle in America in 1638.

Mounted at the back of the church is one huge pipe organ that covers the whole back wall. It is an integral part of the church as it is used for worship as well as for musical events.

The photo shows the centre aisle that leads to the front of the church, notice the design of the stained glass mounted behind the pulpit on the wall and the crystal chandeliers hanging from above. The church contains a lot of history and traditions, although we find that the church can sit six hundred people, there are less than a hundred people attending service on Sundays.

Right underneath the church lies a Crypt! The church was built over the graves of the departed as the members refused to exhume the bodies for the construction of the new church. The crypt contains the tombstones of nearly 139 ranging from the very young to the very old.

This is the 'Church on the Rock' an very exciting church that caters mainly to the younger generation, a church that speaks to the youth at their level with activities that they are comfortable with; music and dance and a host of other activities.

It has a hall that can sit a thousand people at any one time providing a conducive environment for a lively and meaningful worship.

The next church we visited is a Messianic Jewish synagogue 'Simchat Yisrael' located at West Haven that is part of the Christian community that we visited.

Tom, one of the leaders of the synagogue speaking to us on the history and the various rituals that they practise as Messianic Jews. It is an amazing story of God's faithfulness that led to the formation of this synagogue, from worshipping in rented premises to having a place to call their own.

The next church we visited was the Catholic St Rose of Lima church that was founded in 1907 by Irish priest, Father John J. Fitzgerald. Now the church ministers to a Hispanic majority congregation

There we saw many beautiful stained glass windows that adorned the church which had scenes taken from the bible.

The youngest church 'All Nations Christian Church' barely a year old, is using a rented dining hall above a storefront as their place of worship. No church building, not even a sign to display its location, but it is where God had led Rev Geoffery Little to serve and to preach the gospel.

Rev Geoffery speaking to the group outside on the parking lot explaining the fact that they have to come early Sunday morning to clean up the area that is full of garbage from Saturday night.

This is the dining hall above the shopfront that was rented to them at a very reasonable rate by the owner who runs his business most of the weekdays except Sundays. The catch is that they will have to clean up the place, rearrange the the chairs and cart in the equipment before they can start the service. And after the service, they must rearrange the hall again before leaving the place!

The group listening attentively to Rev Geoffery as he talks to us passionately about his ministry to the people in the area. The service is conducted in Spanish and English and he has big plans for this new ministry that God had led him to.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Welcome Reception in OMSC

We were officially welcomed by Dr Jonathan Bonk this afternoon to OMSC where we were introduced to the local community. It was a sunny but cool afternoon garden reception where we were treated to piping hot pizzas. There were also a couple of minstrel singing folk songs and ballads to the guests.

The event was held in the garden with tents, with tables and chairs for the guests giving a festive air to the whole reception.

The two singing minstrels were serenading the guests with their songs and putting smiles on their faces with witty comments as they roamed the garden

This is a portable pizza oven that they trucked over for the event. The wood fired crispy pizzas were crunchy and delicious. I have not seen anything like this before!

A closer view of the pizza oven on wheels with it's clay dome oven that baked pizzas on the spot.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Downtown Yale University Campus

It was a great feeling to walk through the campus of the Yale university, looking at the colleges, the halls and the open space under the trees. The design and construction of the Gothic like buildings were specially thought out to give it a sense of antiquity.

This is one of the many secured gates leading into colleges where the freshmen will live, study, play and dine. As the university is built right in the city it was necessary for them to provide a form of security to deter crime.

This is the main entrance to the Sterling Memorial Library where there are more than 4 million books. For further details you can look it up here:

This is the circulation desk and as you may notice, the library is built to look like a cathedral. The image of a woman is that of Mother Yale not Mother Mary and in each hand she holds a crystal globe and a book signifying light and truth (Lux et veritas)

Another photo of the college entrance built with the Gothic design

This is the entrance to the common green where the most of the colleges are located, some of the buildings inside are more than 300 years old!

My Apartment in OMSC

We were given a fully furnished (and I mean fully furnished) two bedroom apartment that more than met our needs. All we needed to do was to stock up the fridge with food from the supermarket.

This is the one of the two rooms in the apartment

This is the dining area just outside the room above

This is the kitchenette, small and utilitarian but good enough for anyone to cook up a storm (American style only - Asian cooking will set off the fire alarm)

This is the other bedroom in the apartment

OMSC New Haven

We have been here for a week now and have acclimatised to the changes, weather, food & time. It has been a great week, though it was rather hot when we first arrived, the temperature then was more like Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Now it feels much better and the leaves are slowly turning yellow and brown with the temperatures falling to the 25C in the daytime and 18C at night.