Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Chinese Mid Autumn and Mooncake Festival

Kim and I took Hannah to the Chinese mid autumn and mooncake festival this past Saturday. It was an annual event put on by SACA, which is the Suncoast Association of Chinese Americans. They had all kinds of tradional Chinese food much like I had when I visited China. There was Chinese dancing and Hannah wore one of her Chinese dresses. It was a real fun night. I remember when Hannah was younger she would get so excited when she saw the moon. She loved the moon shining in her room so I figured this festival was right up her alley. She liked the dancing mostly. We think it is important to give Hannah an oppurtunity to expierence some of her cultural heritage. She is young and maybe does not understand much now but I think she will appreciate it one day. When she is older she might not want any part of it. That will be her choice and we support that.
The Mid Autumn Festival falls on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month of the Chinese calender usually around mid or late September. Mooncakes are the Chinese pastry traditionally eaten during the festival. Typical mooncakes are round or rectangular. The filling is usually made from lotus paste, but sometimes other fillings as well. It is surrounded by a thin crust which may be made with yolks from salted duck eggs. Mooncakes are rich and heavy compared with most Western cakes and pastries. They are usually eaten in small wedges accompanied by Chinese Tea and are eaten at night by the light of the moon. Unfortunately, we did not get to have any mooncakes because there were not enough for non-members. We might join SACA so we can taste some maybe next time. I posted a picture so you can see what the mooncakes look like. The Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the two most important holidays in the Chinese calender (the other being the Chinese New Year), and is a legal holiday in several countries. Farmers celebrate the end of the summer harvesting season on this date. Traditionally, on this day, Chinese family members and friends will gather to admire the bright mid-autumn harvest moon, and eat moon cakes and pomelos (chinese grapefruit) together. Accompanying the celebration, there are additional cultural or regional customs, such as: Eating mooncakes outside under the moon, carrying brightly lit lanterns, lighting lanterns on towers, floating sky lanterns ,burning incense, planting Mid-Autumn trees ,collecting dandelion leaves and distributing them evenly among family members, and the always popular fire dragon dances.
So, there is your Chines culture lesson for the day. I found most of it on wikipedia . That is such a great source for about anything you want to know more about.

Monday, September 15, 2008

My Birthday!!

9-10 was my Birthday and I turned 37. It was a great day just spending time with my family and just being together. We had fun all day and enjoyed a dinner of all you can eat shrimp, YUMMY and cake at Red Lobster. Having Birthday celebrations are not really what it is all about for me anymore. Just having Birthdays is good and sharing them with the people that mean the most, is what really matters. I am so thankful for our time as a family. Especially since 9-11 is the day after my Birthday. It really makes us aware that it is so important to tell each other that we love one another. How many people on 9-11 or any other given day for that matter do not get a chance to tell their loved ones how much they love them? They are gone in a blink of an eye and it is too late. How many don't have anyone to tell "I love you" ? 9-11 is a day that has forever changed me and it saddens me how so many have forgotten. We take our freedoms for granted. We are not appreciative of all of the sacrifices made daily on our behalf. Heck we are not even appreciative of the sacrifices that Jesus made for us. All God wants us to do is love one another. I wish I knew why it is so hard for that to happen. Well anyway, take this opportunity to really love your neighbor. Even the one you can't stand. Do something nice for someone. and tell your family you love them and care for them.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

It has been awhile

Sorry that it has been so long since I have blogged. There has been so much going on in our lives. Our family has had many memorable moments and one sad moment recently. First my Maternal Grandfather died on August 22nd. He was 82 and his health had been failing in recent years due to Congestive heart failure. Thankfully he died peacefully at home with his wife by his side. I am thankful he did not suffer or die in a hospital bed. He would not have wanted to go that way. I saw him last September when he came to Florida to visit with us. We had a very nice visit. He met our precious Hannah for the first time and he enjoyed every minute he spent with her. Hannah loved her GG and I am glad that she was able to meet him and spend time with her Great Grandpa. He went home to California and went on and on about Hannah which did not surprise me when his wife and her children shared this with me at his funeral. Hannah has that effect on people. We traveled to New York for the funeral where he wanted to be laid to rest. The Fire Department that he gave almost thirty years to, provided an honor guard and an Engine transported his casket to the national cemetery where he was buried. It was a fitting tribute and I am thankful that The Fire Department was allowed to pay its respects. He would have loved that. Above is the last photo that we took with him. We will miss him dearly.

On September 4th almost 18 months of Paramedic training officially came to the end. I tested out in front of the Medical Director and was officially recognized by my Fire Department as a Paramedic. It was a great feeling to be finally finished with the Provisional program I started in June. I took a written exam and did a table top scenario based practical exam and I passed with flying colors. I know that my training has not really ended. It has just begun. There is so much to learn. I now go out on the streets and work on my own. I will continue to learn and study as the field of emergency medicine is forever evolving.
Soon after testing out we loaded up the van and traveled to Mississippi as a family to celebrate my little brothers achievement. He received his Pilots Wings in The United States Air Force after 52 weeks of Pilot training. My Brother has had a dream to fly Fighter jets since he was about five or six years old and for those that know him, realize what a hard dream this was to finally fulfill. God has graced him with tremendous courage and endurance and perseverance to get to where he is today. We are all so proud of what he has done and thank God for making a little boys dreams come true. Not only did he get his wings but He graduated top of his class . He receivied multiple awards for performance. He also got his assignment. After some more training, He willbe flying the premier jet in the USAF today, The F22 Raptor. That is so amazing. We could not be more proud of him and his service to this country. We all got the chance to help pin the wings on his chest and it was such a great moment. I remember him wanting to do everything with me and my friends when he was a little kid. As a typical big Brother I was not always very nice to him. At times I treated him pretty bad. I guess in a way I helped toughen him up for his future. I would like to think that anyway. Dave I love you Brother. I am so proud of the man you have become and the service to our country that you are providing. You are an American Hero and I feel safer knowing that you are on the front lines protecting me and my family. May God Bless you and keep you safe in your journey.
I almost forgot. I would like to wish my Mom and Dad Happy Anniversary today. 38 years of marriage. They have been such a great example to Kim and me. Thanks Mom and Dad!!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Chinese Christian Pastor Released

Your Voice Was Heard!
We just received word from Pastor “Bike” that he has been released from Chinese custody. Pastor Bike was in good spirits and extended thanks to all those who prayed and were willing to sign the petition for his release. He believed this petition drive was part of the reason the officials released him along with his wife and co-worker.

We will still deliver a printed copy of all the signatures collected to the Chinese embassy next week, along with a THANK YOU LETTER to express appreciation for the release of our Christian brothers and sister. Continue to add your voice, and encourage your friends, so that we can let the Chinese government know how many Christians care about persecution in China.

We will have a full update next week.

Praise God for answered prayer!

--The Voice of the Martyrs and China Aid Association