My “Handsome” New Year’s Gifts

The title of my story today is a bit unusual. People usually use the words ‘wonderful’ or ‘beautiful’ to describe the quality of gifts they receive. But for me now ‘wonderful’ is just too common. And ‘beautiful’ also sounds pretty ‘girly’ at this time. That’s why I choose the words ‘handsome’ as a man and, by chance, I am feeling a bit handsome now. 😀 Anyway, thanks for coming… here is a little glimpse of my first new year’s experience in North American country.

The first gift was the opportunity to visit my uncle’s family in Los Angeles, California by the end of last year. Although it was just a very short visit, from December 29th to January 1st, I was so excited because finally I could meet my uncle, his wife, and his son for the first time after nearly 20 years. I am so happy to see them all in a good and healthy life. I arrived at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in the evening of the 29th and my uncle so kindly picked me up at the airport, and from there we went for dinner and then shopping at a groceries store. On the first day (30th), my uncle drove me to Hollywood and we took lots of pictures there, some of which I could only see in the movies when I was a kid, such as the Hollywood sign and the star signs along the Walk of Fame. On the second day (31st), we all (my uncle, aunt, cousin, and me) went to San Diego to visit La Jolla Beach. Unfortunately, it was a rainy day, but we still enjoyed some delicious food (of course ‘provided’ by my uncle) and took some pictures, as normally happened. 😀 After arriving back at home, my uncle and cousin took some rest while my aunt and I just spent time watching a new year’s countdown on TV at that night. On the third day (the first day of new year), we went to a Sunday service at Saddleback Church, one of the world’s megachurch, founded in 1980 by Pastor Rick Warren, the author of a best-selling book, Purpose Driven Life, one of my most favorite books that has pretty much influenced me and shaped my way of thinking. We were so happy to have such privilege to start new year with worshiping God at his church, and of course we did not forget to take some pictures (again) there. 😀 After the service, we went for lunch and then my uncle sent me back to airport. Thank you so much, Akiu and Aking! (that’s how I call my uncle and aunt by the way). Even though we had met only for a while, but I got many valuable lessons from you two. Inspiring!

Hollywood Lake Park

In front of the Hollywood sign. (Photographed by my uncle)

My cool uncle and me with his car. (Photographed by both of us)

My cool uncle and me with his car. (Photographed by both of us)

Along the Walk of Fame. Which one is your favorite? (Photographed by my uncle)

Along the Walk of Fame. Which one is your favorite? (Photographed by my uncle)

A cloudy day, but the view of La Jolla beach is still worth seeing.

A cloudy day, but the view of La Jolla beach is still worth seeing. (Photographed by myself)

Here is my cousin and me on the rainy day at La Jolla Cove. (Photographed by my aunt)

Here is my cousin and me on the rainy day at La Jolla Cove. (Photographed by my aunt)

After Sunday service at Saddleback church. What a perfect way to start the day in 2017! (Photographed by a kind-hearted passerby)

After Sunday service at Saddleback church. What a perfect way to start the day in 2017! (Photographed by a passerby)

The second gift was the acceptance of my latest work in Korea for publication in a scientific journal. I received this delightful news from my professor on December, 16, 2016. I now remember it as 16-12-16. Time has been running so fast since my first publication in 2014. What makes this gift special is because this paper is my fourth published work after four years study and research in Korea, meaning that my publication rate is one paper a year as the first author. I even did not have a chance to write the story of my second and third publications in this blog. Really… I have never even imagined this can happen before. Deepest gratitude to my professor, Dr. Jungho Jae and my colleague as the co-author, Haryo Pandu Winoto for without their continuous support and intellectual contribution this work would never be done; and of course to many other people (lab mates, technician, friends) who helped me a lot with their physical, emotional, and intellectual support. I remember one of my Korean professors has implied that I could probably have graduated as a PhD had I joined the integrative program in 2012. But, I feel that my knowledge and experience are still far from enough to be a PhD graduate. Nonetheless, knowing that your hard work being paid off has always been a rewarding moment in life. At the end of the day, I can only thank God for everything…

The third gift, last but not least, was the experience of snowshoeing in Cypress Mountain today with landlord family here (David, Stacy, Devon, Brendan) and with my “hiking mate”, Kwan. What makes it special is because today is just my 30th birthday! 😀 After arriving back at home from LAX, I had only a very short time to take a rest. This morning David drove us to Cypress and it took about an hour to get there from home. All I can say is that the snow view was stunning! The snow on the ground was deep enough that you may want to throw yourself and sink in the snow pile without any worry of being injured. You may also like to hear the ‘crunchy’ sound when you are walking on the snow ground. As normally happened, I took lots of pictures and videos as well. 🙂 A bit unpleasant thing was that the weather was a bit too cold that I could hardly grab my phone with bare hands. We spent about 4-5 hours for the round trip (walking up and down the hills) there. After reaching back to our first starting point, we stopped by a mini cafeteria and enjoyed some delicious snacks. From there we decided to leave for home, Kwan gave me a carpool and we enjoyed ramen noodles for dinner. 🙂 Overall, this brand new experience was great and I thank David, Stacy, and Kwan for organizing this event on my birthday (although they unintentionally arranged it for this purpose). Lucky me! 😀 Definitely, I would like to go there again next time if given a chance. Again, at the end of the day, I thank God for everything…

Here is the departure point of our snowshoeing today.

Here is the departure point of our snowshoeing today.

Can you tell what this picture reminds you of while you are seeing it?

Can you tell what this picture reminds you of while you are looking at it?

Do you feel like being in any Christmas movie?

Do you feel like being in any Christmas movie?

Lovely family! Thank you for bringing me to this place. We all enjoyed the snowshoeing for the first time. :)

Lovely family! Thank you for bringing me to this place. We all enjoyed the snowshoeing for the first time. 🙂

Here we are! Do we look happy? :)

Here we are! Do we look happy? 🙂 (Picture taken by David)

One of the best views today.

One of the best views today. We were lucky for the good weather.

It's the snow shoe trail map.

It’s the snow shoe trail map.

We (Kwan and I) stopped here to take this picture. This place is called Barrett's View.

We (Kwan and I) stopped here on the way back home to take this picture. It is called Barrett’s View.

Sunset in Barrett's View.

Sunset in Barrett’s View.

Finally, happy birthday to me! Thank God I am now 30 years young.

Finally, happy birthday to me! Thank God I am now 30 years young. (Picture taken by Kwan)

Alright, this is all! Thanks so much for reading and hope you enjoy the pictures too. See you on the next post.

Vancouver, January 2017

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