Labor Day Weekend of 2014
Saturday 8/30 - Went to IKEA with Christine and Edward to buy succulent plants. I bought Geneva & Wilfred, and now they sit happily together next to each other on my window sill.
Sunday 8/31 - Went to Stacey, Kinsey, Nkechi and Erin’s house for dumplings for dinner. Phillip, Corin, Angie, Pooja, Karen, and Paulina were there too. It felt so good sitting at a long table eating family style with friends.
Monday 9/1 - When to the MFAH with Sean to see Soto: The Houston Penetrable.
I was reading a wiki article on the Menil Collection and it reminded me the last time I was there with Solji, Sean and Tony during the summer. We were really lucky and got a chance to see The Treachery of Images in person. The painting just so happens to be on loan from LACMA.
Feb 23, 2014 Dream log
My bottom left front tooth felt very wiggly. I messed with it with my tongue, then it fell off. I sat up in my bed and spat it out on my hands. Then the tooth left of the gap felt wiggly too. All the teeth on my left bottom jam collapse one by one like dominoes into gap. I end up with a hand full of teeth.
I told myself this can’t be true it’s just a dream and forced myself awake. Now I am sleeping on my side. My bottom left front tooth does feel slightly wiggly. I told myself not to mess with it and wait until morning to get it checked out by the dentist.
I woke up in the morning. I checked my front tooth. It wasn’t wiggly. I was very relieved.
Feb 22, 2014 Dream log
I was diving in a space suit like outfit like 1000 leagues under the sea. There was a gorgeous woman swimming in front of me. She was slowly crawl and swimming upwards. Her hair flow graciously. At first I though she was swimming in place but it turns out she was trapped. She kept bumping into a rock ledge right above her head. Her instinctive reaction was to panic and forget to swim to the side to avid the rock ledge, like a person trapped under the capsized boat. I thought to save her, but at that very instant a fighter jet brown Russian, flew right under the ledge and picked her up on the wings. And off the fighter jet went with the beautiful lady. I thought wow that’s one way to air evac in style.
I woke up and I am sitting in a place that feels like McMurtry commons talking to Won Hee and Sean explaining to them the dream I just had.
I woke up again. This time I’m actually awake.
Feb 16, 2014: My Testimony
To live is Christ, and to die is gain. Philippians 1:21
This verse has resounded in me ever since I first heard it last summer. At the time it spoke to me because I was amazed by Paul’s lack of fear for death. But then I was also amused by how bold he was - so bold that it almost seemed foolish to me - to put all his eggs in one basket, all his faith in Christ. Today I want to share my story of how I came to see this verse in a different light - no longer one of amusement but of agreement.
I will began by inducing myself and my background, so that it can provided some context on what my stance for Christianity was and how it has changed as I walked through - what I called - my three stages.
My name is Chieh Hsiu. But ever since I moved to California from Taiwan when I was seven years old, I have chose to be called Eric.
My first exposure to Christianity was through one of my dad’s co-worker. They invited our family to the local Chinese church. My parents stopped going after a few time, but our family friend still took me and my sister to the Friday night Awana every week. I really enjoyed Awana for the game times and hanging out with my friend Justin, but other then that I didn’t really put much thought into the Bible verse we had to memorize or the word time the youth leader, Uncle Eng, gave. Being a rebellious kid, I always look for ways to give my adult leaders a hard time. I remember one time when Uncle Eng gave a word time on Abraham and the Israelites being the chosen people. I shouted out, “What about the Chinese people? Why do we get no love?” With that I aged out of Awana and during my three year time in the program I managed to only get ten pages into the first booklet. I saw my lack of accomplishment as an achievement, because I beat the system. Though it seems that I have gained nothing from my church experience in my middle school days, a tiny seed was sowed and would be dormant in my heart until I came to Rice.
I spent my first year in college like most other college students. I didn’t lack anything in my life but I felt the need to seek for something more. I enjoyed going out on the weekend to let the loud music and alcohol I drown out that inkling. However, everytime when I woke up in the morning with a splitting headache I felt only emptier than before.
I did drop by different fellowships on campus, but it was until last summer when I was in Houston I felt drawn to Christianity. My friend Ben Weia took me to Houston Chinese Church. This was the beginning the first stage of my journey. It was through one of the Sunday sermons that I heard the verse from Philippians. During this time I overcame the misconceptions I had for Christianity. Firstly, the Christian God is a God of love and forgiveness. Secondly, salvation is a gift from God, it is free to us at the cost of Christ’s death. Thirdly, God will always faithfully forgive, no matter what. The last one took me a long time to take in because I had so much pride and entitlement that had turned into self-pity and hate. I learn to forgive myself, because even the God,who know everything about me - even more than I know about myself, forgives me.
I was introduced to New Life through my roommate Sean, and with my new found understanding for Christianity came new doubts. This is my second stage. I began to doubt whether God truly exist, whether I even need God, and whether I am following Christianity for the right reasons. Throughout the end of summer and my first semester each of those doubt are addressed. Some of questions were address through reading The Reason for God by Tim Keller. However it was hearing others’ testimonies and seeing the joy and love the members of the college ministry poured out to one another that moved me. I felt nothing in this world can cause this much joy in these people, it has to be something extraordinary. I chose to believe that these people were not crazy, but part of something greater than themselves. And I wanted to be part of that.
I wanted to experience that love and joy. I wanted so badly to be part of the community. I wanted to be God’s children, because I had tasted the bread that has filled me more than I had ever felt.
But I still struggled to let go of my indulgences. I didn’t want to give up my sinful habits and the empty pleasures. I didn’t want to change. I didn’t want to be constricted by Christianity.
Then one day I was just scrolling through my Facebook wall and I was drawn by this video. It turns out to be about sex trafficking. After watching the video, I realized God was calling me out. He was calling me out on a private life of mine that I had always chose to ignore. An issue that I struggled with for many years and compartmentalized into thinking that this part of me was someone else, not part of my identity. Through the video, I realized my personal sins not only affects me but also came at cost to the world and people around me. The sermon that we heard earlier this month only drove this message home for me.
At this point I wanted to change. I realized in order to fix this internal problem I need an intervention. I needed Christ. Only He can free me from my bondage to my strongholds. I believe through Christ I can have a new life that is more freeing than it is constricting.
Because of this, I chose to accept Jesus into my heart.
I wanted the people around me to know about my decision and invite them to judge me for my new identity. This is why I chose to get baptized, to let the everyone know that I am now a child of God.
No longer do I feel bewildered by Paul’s statement.
To live is Christ, and to die is gain
I agree in this new life I am no longer living for myself. I am putting all my faith in Christ. Because Christ is much greater than anything else this world can give, having Him as the center of my life makes my life much greater than I can ever make out of it myself.
Jan 11 2014:
I had McDonald’s for dinner. To my brilliance I sipped on the dollar sweet ice tea as I watched late night TV, forgetting that I was sensitive to caffeine. Couldn’t fall asleep till near five in the morning.
Las Vegas: Jan 6-10, 2014
Monday: Ate at the Flamingo Garden for lunch, practically servery food. like Slept all day after the flight. Had Paris buffet for dinner, I thought it was quite nice.
Tuesday: Went to CES. Walked around with nothing particular in mind. I think the LG TV wall with the OLED and 3D made the strongest impression. I ate at the Fuku Burger truck, it was terrible to be honest. The “special sauce” made every thing soggy. Went to hear the Cisco CEO’s keynote speech on the Internet of Everything. It was massive. Ate at the Caeser buffet. It was also massive. Dad dictated that I was not allow to eat at a buffet ever for all the meat I ate in one sitting.
Wednesday: Went to Starbucks for wifi to get started on TTT app. Got to CES and saw all the car related exhibits. Walked around Caesar Forum Mall for a while. Bought myself two pairs of pants from Gap after dinner with dad at the Beijing Noodle shop. Very overpriced noodles, to be honest. The lady sitting next to our table was very curious about the chopstick holder I made. I was a bit shy at first to teach the origami Jaewon had taught me.
Thursday: Caught the presentation by Intel on perceptual depth computing. Played games with just hand gestures. Hisene hired the Jabbawockeez to do a performance. The Parrot robot demonstration was a bit of a let down. Got to ride along on the BMW i3. Pretty neat car. Ate at a bar next to the Venetian’s canal, while enjoying classical music played by a classic guitarist, violinist and flutist. Manage to get a Newcastle at the bar. This unique instance gave me false confidence and I tried twice at two other bars without success.
Friday: got up in the morning and shuttled to the airport. Now I am here in Houston at the Hilton next to Rice cause I am not allowed to go in my dorm yet. It’s bloody lonely in this suite.
This marks the end of my winter break.
Dec 31, 2013 and Jan 1, 2014
2013: Went to Emily’s. It was nice
2014: Went to Monterey with family. It was nice