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History was just made this morning.  My parents traveled internationally, by themselves, and landed safely in London Heathrow airport.  If you don’t believe me, here’s the proof!

Why is this a historic moment?   Read the rest of this entry »

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Where do you think the picture below was taken?

It may look like China (and, indeed, Betty and I took pictures like this in Suzhou earlier this year), but this was in fact taken in San Marino, California at the new Chinese garden exhibit at the Huntington Library.

I recently came across two very interesting news articles that highlight the question of national pride for ethnic Chinese in countries outside of China:

  • LA Times article about the celebration of the founding of communist China in Southern California.
  • CBC article about the Chinese government funding a Chinese language course in the Greater Vancouver area of BC, Canada.

The question that I want to pose is: is it unpatriotic to the US (which I am a citizen) if I were to be proud of China (which is where my ethnic origins are) and its latest accomplishments?  This is something that seems to come up quite a bit (esp. if you read the seemingly racist comments by some readers of the CBC article).

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For many of you who do not know, ever since I lived in Vancouver, I have grown to love the nature around me.  In my last place, my landlord — a pastor and his family — had a compost bin in his back garden.  We would fill the bin with all sorts of rubbish (vegetable clippings, tea leaves, egg shells — I even threw in some pork bones which I later found you are not supposed to do) and, after a few months, it would all turn into this very rich soil (bones included).  Aside from the fringe benefits of having stuff to plant with, it was also a means to minimise the amount of waste thrown out for the garbage trucks. Afterall, things that could be composted are usually tightly wrapped in plastic bags and added to landfills – a place where worms, slugs and other friendly critters could not help in the decomposition process. Read the rest of this entry »

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British English

Over the past three decades, I have lived for extended periods of time in three different countries.  Each, however, have been English speaking.  The first being my beloved U. S. of A. — my homeland and my place of birth.  The second being Canada, where I found my beloved Betty.  And now, I find myself in the third, England, where I have lost my beloved sanity in pursuit of a PhD. Read the rest of this entry »

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I have never missed a Thanksgiving celebration.  I have always remembered the holiday as one celebrated with family — often my family with my mom’s side of the family getting together for a Burmese-American Thanksgiving fusion dinner.  Even when I was in college in San Diego, I remember sometimes going with the youth group I worked with on Thanksgiving day to serve food at the local shelters — but by the afternoon, I was driving up two hours to be at Thanksgiving dinner.

But then, when I moved to Canada in 2006, things changed.  Not only was the last Thursday of November a full day of classes, Thanksgiving in Canada was celebrated a month and a half earlier.  A few friends and I decided to still celebrate American Thanksgiving — in Canada.

      

The next year, of course, we did the same.  This year, I have moved again — this time with my bride and to England.  Though the number of Americans here are far fewer, we still celebrated God’s goodness!

What I think is very special for me is the fact that Thanksgiving is a time of family.  And, as I have lived away from home for many years, I appreciate the fact that God has given me surrogate families wherever I have gone.  I am truly thankful for God’s blessings.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Settling in the UK

Hi everyone!

We are finally here in the UK, finally here in Birmingham. It’s been a long journey, leaving Vancouver on September 1st and embarking on an 18-day journey here to Birmingham. God has been very good to Alex and myself. He has blessed us with so many wonderful memories that we will treasure forever with the friends and family with whom we met up with along the way. Of course, we remember and treasure the dear friends and family we left in Vancouver too!

So how does it feel to finally be here in Birmingham? I can only speak for myself, Alex will have to share his thoughts in his blog entry. I have already been asked many a times why I would return to such a country as England, always so wet and so dark in the winter and so gloomy here. I have been quite surprised actually by all the negative comments I hear about this island. Perhaps many people are fed up, for whatever reason. The only thing I want to say is that grass is not always greener on the other side.

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Road Trip to Banff - Lake Louis

September 1, 2008 is the two year anniversary of my arrival in Vancouver, BC from California as a new student at Regent College.  It is also the day I leave Canada, with my bride, to another new country — England.  Though considered by many Americans as the “America’s hat” or the “51st state,” I have grown to appreciate this country for its own goodness.  As I leave, I leave with many things — the most important, being a love for a place that is not my own.  Here are the top 10 things I have learned from my pilgrimage in the True North:

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It’s early in the morning right now. I still have to get ready for work. But the sunshine is out and it is a glorious day. I was reminded last night of how great this world is that God has created for us, and it is true. We live in this most magnificent city, so close to God’s natural wonders in His mountains and sea and islands. I always missed these visual signs of God’s greatness when I was living in the UK. But then I suppose when something great is always there and in front of us, it can be easy to just not see sometimes. Whereas from afar, I have to take the effort to remember. 

So it’s the last few weeks before we leave Vancouver now (well, a month and a half still, I suppose). I’ve never been good with transitions. Especially the times before the change, when I know the change is impending. My last physical move was about two years ago, and that was a short transition time. I secured my job in Vancouver, gave one month’s notice with my UK job and then left England. The time was so packed. It didn’t feel like I had enough time to say good-bye.

But this time, it feels different. I am now a “we”, so it’s not just myself who is going through this transition. We’ve also been saying that we’ll be moving to the UK for a long time now. Even though things were not always decided yet. Even now, with less than two months to go, things do not seem to be so decided. And me, with a small faith, often have trouble getting used to everything. It is, of course, through these times that I can recall all the moments in my past where I believe God had been so faithful to me, when I didn’t know what was to come. I do remember these times, but it’s still not so easy sometimes. 

Though now on such a day, I can look around me and remember. And know that if God can create and take care of such a beautiful natural world as I see here, then how infinitely more will He care for us!

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On May 10, 2008, we entered a commitment in Christian marriage before our family and friends in Vancouver, Canada. Through the lenses of our good friends and photographers Jon Chan and Cindy Lowe, we wanted to share glimpses of that special day with others.

Thanks to our families who have loved us, our friends who have supported us, and our God Who has embraced us through it all!

 

Blessings!

Alex and Betty

P.S. We have yet to receive photos from our reception in LA and will post them once we get them.

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The Story

Following is the story of how we met, got engaged and finally married on May 10, 2008.

About Us

Alex recently graduated as a full-time student at Regent College in Vancouver, BC and moonlights as a Software Engineer.

Betty is a cytogenetic diva working in a genetics research lab affiliated with the Vancouver General Hospital.

How we Met

We met through a mutual friend in England, Bert Han.

Betty spent several years in England studying and working and got to know Bert and his wife Phan. Alex visited England several years ago to participate in a youth conference.

As Betty was returning to her hometown of Vancouver, BC, Bert introduced her to several of his friends in the Vancouver area — including Alex. Shortly thereafter, they started dating.

When we Got Engaged

November 4, 2007

The Story

(The abridged version.)

Alex had a romantic day planned — most of which failed miserably with the exception of the proposal!

(Unabridged, told from Alex’s perspective.)

I had a whole day planned to surprise Betty for their six-month anniversary. I was going to rent a car, pick her up for church, and then relive significant events of our relationship. The car rental was important for the element of surprise — especially since I don’t have a car in Vancouver and Betty normally drives. Later that evening, we would have a romantic walk on the beach where we had one of our first pre-dating outtings together. Then, a game of indoor tennis (Betty’s favorite sport). We were going to go back to my apartment, shower and change, and I would give Betty her first corsage (yes first). Then off to the most romantic place on earth where the proposal would happen — the A & W Rootbeer Restaurant. That was where I had asked Betty to first start dating many months prior. After that would follow a proper meal at The Cannery. However, not all plans are meant to be.

When I tried to rent the car, my credit card got rejected — TWICE. It turned out that CitiBank blocked my transactions because the card was being used in a foreign country (a country where the card has been used numerous times for over a year). So, no car. No problem. The next day, my buddy Clement dropped me off at Betty’s place to surprise her. We went to church and lunch — both of which ran a bit late — then returned to Betty house to get some things she forgot. Alas, we were 1 1/2 hours behind my schedule. No problem. The 2hrs allocated to the hike were shortened to a 30 min stroll. While coming back from the bech, Alex saw a man in the driver’s seat of a car that looked like Betty’s. He ran up to the car and the man gets out, jumps into another car, and speeds off — Betty’s car was broken into. After calling the RCMP and inspecting the car, it turned out that the steering console was damaged and a bag stolen — the car now had to be towed! All plans were now canceled. At this point, Alex had zero intention on proposing that night.

Clement came, picked us up, and took us back to my place (I had a frozen pizza in the freezer, ready to be eaten). After Clement left, I remembered one little detail in the plans that did not get spoiled — the corsage. So, I went to the fridge to get the flowers and said to Betty, “I don’t know if you are still in the mood, but I wanted to get you these for our six-month anniversary.” She saw them and immediately said, “We HAVE TO dress up!” So, she got into the dress she brought for the dinner and I got into my suit. My iPod played classical music as we had our romantic frozen pizza dinner, sparkling tap water, and candle-lit table. It was perfect. Towards the end of the meal, we reminisced about our pasts. I brought up that fateful day in A & W Rootbeer and started repeating some of the lines I had used that night. Then I said, “Remember when I asked you, ‘Would you like to pursue a marital relationship with me?’” She responded, “You didn’t say that.” To which I replied, “Can I now,” as I pulled the ring out of my pocket. As she screamed “ARE YOU SERIOUS!??!”, I walked around the table and properly got on one knee. She said, “YES!”

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