mardi, février 27, 2007

on being chinese pt.2
(read part 1 here)

Going to houses of other chinese friends was always very awkward. "Lei ho ma?" (How are you?), parents would always ask in Cantonese, followed by, "Lei sec dzo fan mei a?" (Have you eaten?), and my friends would turn to them and say, "she doesn't speak Chinese", and their parents would cluck with disapproval and tell me that I was Chinese and I should learn Chinese.
I used to hold back my tongue and refrain from telling them that they weren't speaking a real language either, just a dialect, and that at least I spoke and understood SOME Mandarin. I would also refrain from telling them that I held a Canadian passport and spoke English and French, and that they should at least learn one or both, if they were going to live in Canada. (Yes, I had/have a very feisty, prideful spirit.)

For a pre-teen, this was what being Chinese meant to me. My skin, eye and hair colour only served to remind me of my failure of living up to the culture I had genetically inherited. Though I had learned and adopted many traditional Chinese mannerisms, these were never good enough to outweigh my lack of language abilities. Even being good in school and skipping a grade wasn't enough for parents of friends to qualify me as a good kid. In fact, it only served to exacerbate their dislike for me; I was not a friend to play with, I was their child's competition. No amount of cajolery would win their favour.

When I was in grade 6, everyone at my church started wearing Club Monaco sweatshirts. They were hip and were the Birkin bag of the day. Desperately wanting to fit in, I pleaded my parents to buy me one. They were a status symbol amongst Chinese kids, and Chinese parents at my church would willingly shell out the money to ensure that their kids had what every other kid wanted. My parents refused to buy me one; "We don't know what it is about Chinese kids and brand name clothing, but we are raising you to go to church on Sundays and love God, not compete over who can have expensive clothing," they would always say.

Though my parents were (and are) very counter-cultural, they did instill in me many traditional Chinese values that I still uphold to this day. Some are more superficial; when I am eating with other families or a mixed-age group, I follow tradition, and do not put anything in my mouth until the people older than me have begun to eat. I call every Chinese married man or woman "Uncle" or "Auntie", and every white man or woman "Mr." or "Mrs.". In fact, to this day, calling friends' parents by their first names is difficult for me. I often find it difficult communicating with people who are much older than me, because in traditional Chinese culture, as a child or a youth, it is important to be seen, but not heard. Other traditions have been engrained deeply into me. I have a deep sense of work ethic and perfectionism. As a child, I would come home from school, do my math homework (kumon!) and then practice two hours of violin and two hours of piano. Loyalty is very important, amongst family and friends, and i hold these things close to my heart.

Despite having picked up many of these traditions, many of which my other Chinese friends have not retained, I never felt acutely Chinese. At least, not until High School. But, this'll have to wait for another day. It's time for bed.

Oh, and I did eventually end up getting a Club Monaco shirt. We bought it in the States for a quarter of the price. But, by then it was about two years too late. Now, whenever I go home to Edmonton, I wear it as my pyjamas.

dimanche, février 25, 2007

Eye and Ear nourishment.

© N. Onifrichuk 2007

I haven't done much photography this week. I'm still mourning a roll of film that I ruined which had really great shots on it.

So, instead, I'm putting up this shot that a wonderfully artistic brother of mine took. I love the black and white with random bursts of green. Glorious.

now, for some lovely cacophony...some oldies but all goodies! (since I love y'all so much, I found some places where you can listen to this cacophony for free!! Click on #2 and #4 to download.)

1. Much Farther To Go (Rosie Thomas)
2. Say Hello (Rosie Thomas and Sufjan Stevens)
3. Since You've Been Around (Rosie Thomas)
4. Gotta Have You (The Weepies)
5. Tears of the Saints (Leeland)
6. White Daisy Passing (Rocky Votolato)
7. All These Things That I've Done (The Killers)
8. Hear my Worship (Jaime Jamgochian)
9. Glorious King (Jaime Jamgochian)
10. Let Go (Ingrid Michaelson)
11. Only Jesus (Jill Paquette)

samedi, février 24, 2007

because, how would i be able to marry a church-plantin' pastor?

I was sitting down with two wonderful friends tonight, and i attempted to tell them this story. Somehow, i ended up butchering it and making it sound as though i was desperate to find a church-planting-pastor-husband. I blame it on the fact that it was 12:30am, and at this hour of the day, i am hardly a christian (i jest), and no one in their right mind can form anything coherent in spoken form...

Since it fits well with my previous post on decision making, i thought i'd put it up here. Hopefully, at 1am in the morning, my writing is more coherent than my verbal story-telling.

About 2 years ago, i was trying to convince myself that joining staff would not be a good thing. i numbered a page in my journal from one to ten, and sat down to try find 10 reasons why i should not become involved in campus ministry.

I remember having to think hard. This is all i came up with:

"I should not join staff because how would i be able to marry a church-planting pastor?"
(Understand that i have grown up in a denomination with a huge focus on church-planting. It makes the statement seem a bit less peculiar for an 18 year old to be writing in her personal journal, albeit, not much less peculiar.).

Funny enough, less than a year later, a friend on staff with C4C moved to a new country, thinking she would never meet anyone there. She ended up meeting a Caucasian pastor in this small asian country. They got married last year.

It's funny, how even back then, He was preparing me to not worry about the small things, and teaching me to trust him with these things as well as bigger things. What a funny, comical God.

Though a small, silly thing, re-reading that in my old journal makes me realize that though i have doubts about the decision i have made, i need not fear. In time, He will put these fears at ease, just as He did that small silly excuse, two years ago. For those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.

jeudi, février 22, 2007

on decisions and gleanings.
a brief intermission from the Chinese/Identity series...

Okay, i know that thus far, it seems as though all i have done is complain about being Chinese. Don't worry, i have much more to say, and it isn't full of complaints and grumbles. Je te jure, it'll all make sense in the end.
For now, though, i would like to interject with something off topic.

A couple of posts ago, i alluded to the fact that i have decided to join staff with Campus Crusade for Christ. Some of y'all might be a bit confused, since in January, i blogged that i had been accepted on staff. The natural assumption would have been that i would be joining staff. That's the way it usually works-- the majority of thinking and deciding happens before taking the leap of faith.

However, for myself, i seemed to have taken the leap of faith and was then left wondering why the heck i took the leap of faith in the first place. Does that make sense at all? After being accepted, i started to have many doubts about joining staff. I wasn't "feeling" it anymore; i felt as though i hadn't prayed about it enough (even though i have been praying about it for three years now); other options seemed really appealing. Suddenly, going to seminary or a one year Bible school sounded great. But so did being bohemian, backpacking across Europe and doing nothing for one whole year. Things that bothered me about Campus Crusade were suddenly magnified, and i really felt bitterness seeping into my heart. At the same time all of this was going on, i started becoming fearful of many things. I've never been scared to pull out my Bible in class; all of a sudden, i was fearful that if i pulled out my Bible to read during a break, people in class would think i was a right-wing, conservative, homophobic Bible-thumper. Gosh, where does a thought like that even come from? I was suddenly tremendously fearful of joining staff, disappointing people, disappointing God, being rejected and being lonely. Satan was feeding me all of these lies, and i was willingly eating from his hand! These were not good things, and in combination with the depression i have been feeling all year, suddenly, doing anything for God seemed futile and mundane. When i thought about what i would do next year, i cringed at the thought of doing ministry.

I am SO grateful that God's grace covers everything, and that even during this time of, what i would say could only be spiritual warfare, His Sovereign hand was there to support me and guide me. I won't go into details, but late last week, i made an intentional decision to not rely upon my feelings to make this decision. This is not to say that one should not listen to their emotions, but my feelings, as of late, have been flighty and flaky (i.e. wanting to become bohemian and hippy...yikes).

I have decided to continue on with my decision to join staff.

It is true, there are some things that i don't necessarily agree with concerning the organization. I am a critical thinker, and often cynical. There are other things that i know i will eventually want to dedicate a portion of my life to, such as overseas missions and church planting in francophone countries. But for now, despite these things, there are some things i am VERY sure of.

i love Jesus.
i love His Children.
God radically changed my life while i was in university.
God used Campus Crusade as a tool to radically change my life.
He has radically changed the lives of other university students.
i want to be used by Him to impact the university campus and thereby impact the world.
He loves the 85% of students who turn away from Jesus and deny His existence each year while in university.
He will continue to love me, regardless of what i end up doing.
His grace covers a multitude of sins.

It is amazing to know that the God we serve is our glorious Boaz, as Spurgeon once put it. He sees us, dirty and whorish Moabites. We are unclean, homeless, beggers of mercy, needy; we are sinners. And yet, though we do not deserve it, He extends His hand of grace and mercy, offers us food, offers us protection and offers us love.

Glorious Boaz, indeed.

mercredi, février 21, 2007

on being chinese part 1a.

i was infuriated when my mum made me wear this outfit for picture day. Other kids were allowed to wear sweats for their pictures. Why did i have to suffer? The mind of a 4 year old just doesn't understand that sometimes, there are some things which are just, by nature, cute. Chinese outfits for four year olds may just be one of those things.

lundi, février 19, 2007

on being Chinese.
part 1.
(this will be a series on being Chinese in a Western world, which will include memories and perspectives on being culturally Chinese while clinging to an identity that is not of this world)

Chinese New Year has come and gone (for those of you who didn't know, Chinese New Year was this past Sunday). i love Chinese New Year, one of the reasons being that it offers a new opportunity to commit to resolutions that have been reneged on since January 1st. Chinese New Year also comes accompanied with little red envelopes, embossed with gold, which contain some sort of goody, in the form of cotton with the head of a queen or a former prime minister on it (by this, i mean money).

i have few memories of "feeling Chinese" whilst i was growing up. Sure, because of genetics, my skin colour, my last name, and the fact that i was extremely proficient at math, everyone knew i was Chinese; this was simply the default norm. Even so, i rarely felt Chinese. i wasn't the traditional Chinese kid; my parents had studied in London, and spoke English to me at home. They did not have the typical "flied lice" Hong Kong accent and my mum held (and still holds) disdain for speaking Cantonese (even though she can speak this, Mandarin and Hokkien fluently). Everyone else's parents (or so it seemed) spoke Cantonese. When i was three, i started to attend preschool. My parents did not enroll me in an English preschool, nor did i attend a Chinese preschool. Instead, they enrolled me in a francophone preschool because they felt that if i was going to live in Canada, then i ought to be truly Canadian and learn the two national languages of Canada.

One Sunday, during Sunday school at church, i ended up in the wrong class and everything was conducted in Cantonese. We were sitting in a circle. i must have been four years old at the time. i had no clue what was going on, but i didn't know how to tell the teachers that i was in the wrong class. So i sat in the circle, quiet and still, like a deer caught in the glare of headlights from an oncoming car. Suddenly, we were going around the circle, each child taking a turn to say something. When my turn arrived, i didn't know what to say, so i didn't say anything. The teacher kept saying something to me, but i didn't understand. Everything she said seemed like a mouthful of cotton. Finally, the pastor's son, Benjamin, piped up, "She doesn't speak Chinese!"
Everyone laughed. Even the Sunday school teachers.
That was the end of me liking Sunday school.

Most of my memories of "Chineseness" were from Chinese school after Church on Sundays. Every Sunday, after church, my daddy and i would drop off my mum at home, and he would drive me 45 minutes to the south end of town so that i could attend Chinese school. i would eat my sandwich in the car (cheese with the crusts cut off), nap, and wake up in time to enter the dreaded halls of Chinese school. The building i had Chinese class in was actually a high school, which had been designed in the 1960s as an experiment to test whether students would be less distracted if the building had no windows. It constantly felt suffocating. The concrete slab of monotony--this is what Chinese school was like for me. i felt awkward around the other Chinese kids.

One day, i was sitting in class. It was the first class of the school year. The teacher called me up to the chalkboard and asked me to write my name on it. i wrote it down, full of confidence.
When i was done, the teacher clucked, and told the class that i was so old and yet didn't even know how to write my name. They laughed.
She told me that i was writing my name the "baby" way, with simplified characters. i ought to grow up and write my name with traditional chinese characters. Everyone laughed again, and from that day until the end of the year, i had no friends in class. i would eat my snacks alone, sit alone, and feel alone.

i remember feeling very "white", as though i were peering in on the lives of other Chinese kids, who were better at being Chinese than i was. Though i caught glimpses, i never felt as though i wanted to be a part of this Chinese world. Perhaps though, it wasn't that i did not want to be a part of this world, it was that i just couldn't be a part of this world. It wasn't only the building that lacked windows. i always felt as though i lacked a window which would allow me to fully see what it meant to be Chinese.

i used to hate Sundays. For a long time, i thought Jesus must only love Chinese speaking people. i also thought that not knowing how to write my name in traditional Chinese characters instead of simplified characters made me stupid. Only on Sundays, did i ever have to write my name in Chinese on chalkboards.

vendredi, février 16, 2007

prayer request

Hey guys, here's a quick prayer request.

Training for Campus Crusade staff runs from May 2nd to May 10th. I just received my exam schedule today, and i have one exam on May 2nd and one on May 9th. Please pray that U of T would let me do these exams early or defer them to June. I would really like to be able to attend this training time, since there's training on support raising as well.

On the U of T website, it says they do not consider deferments for employment purposes, but I am going to attempt to petition this. So, please pray! I know that God is ultimately the one who is in charge of my exam schedule :)

If y'all could pray for me, that would be so awesome.

mercredi, février 14, 2007

Because we've all experienced a DTR.

Haha, in honour of Valentine's Day/International Singles Awareness Day/ or, as i like to call it, Wednesday...Here is something for everyone to enjoy, single or not.


and a quick update.

my back is a lot better. i can walk now! okay, i have to go study for an exam.

hope your day was wonderful, precious and delightful.


study notes:

Tall people also get more respect and higher incomes at work than shorter people do; independently of a person's age or sex, each inch of height amounts to $789 more in pay, on average in the US and Great Britain each year (Judge & Cable, 2004).
Across various occupations, for instance, men who are 6'1" earn $3,156 more each year than do men who are 5'9".

Judge, T.A., & Cable, D.M. (2004). The effect of physical height on workplace success and income: Preliminary test of a theoretical model. Journal of Applied Psychology, 89, 428-441.

lundi, février 12, 2007

oh the 90s.

oh the irony...

how does one get to a walk-in clinic when she cannot walk?

vendredi, février 09, 2007

i heart new music.

Okay, so admittedly, i am a music snob. Let it be known, i know good music. i am also very indie loving, namely, because i try to be individualistic, which really just makes me like every other person on the face of this earth. While i listen to all sorts of music, it takes something special to make my eyes light up.

Having said this, i have discovered a wonderful musician, who brings warmth to my heart, and goosebumps to my skin. She may not be new to you, but she's new to me. She's like an abstract Jipa and is a Christian. But don't go into this looking for "Christian music", because there's no such thing. Go into this looking for art, and i hope you'll be as pleased as i am.

Her latest album is out digitally on iTunes, and will be on store shelves March 13th. Now, what vaults this record into beauty of astronomical proportions is that it was done in collaboration with Sufjan Stevens, whose music is also glorious.

This is one of those records that i would line up outside to get.


jeudi, février 08, 2007


i met her one day, not so long, but long ago. i must've been fifteen at the time and i was young, naive and innocent. i had never had a boyfriend; she started dating when she was in grade eight. We met through a friend, and i never thought we could ever become friends. She was just too different; our life constructs were worlds apart. It's funny, as i wrote that last sentence, i looked down at the open textbook in front of me, of which i have sixty-eight pages to read before my exam tomorrow, and i notice that the title of the chapter is: worlds apart.

i digress.

i did not feel as though i had to get to know her. She lived in one city, i in another. We were separated by a four hour plane ride. Somehow, an acquaintanceship began. i was tangled in a web; her boyfriend became one of my close friends for a short while; her ex-boyfriend later became one of my best friends until second year university. Sometimes, i would leave anonymous comments on her blog. Other times, i would come right out and reveal my identity. This is how we stayed in touch.

The year i turned seventeen both of us moved to Toronto, and she was the only person i knew. We met up from time to time. Civilities. Perhaps we also reminded each other a bit of home.

i met him sometime towards the end of first year. i had decided to go on a missions project. He too had decided to go on the same trip. It was beneficial for us to get to know each other; we knew no one else who was going.
I was seventeen, and we sat inside a chinese restaurant south of Dundas on Spadina. I ordered wonton noodles and a red bean and coconut drink. He ordered something else. I faced the row of hanging barbecued ducks which occluded the full view of the outside world. He must have been wearing green pants.
He tried my drink and winced with disdain. I cleaned off my straw with a napkin.

i am now twenty. Throughout these four years, we have become good friends. i would say that he is one of my best friends. He is like my older brother. In third year, we met up almost every tuesday for lunch. This semester, we meet thursdays. We joke about the past and we eat. i try not to think about the future, because out of many friends, he will be someone i will truly miss. He is offensive, funny and caring.

At the end of first year, we decided to live together. We used to sit together and talk about boys. Out in the living room, our other roommate would join us, and we'd talk. We'd watch TV together, eat cake on our birthdays. We would complain about how a mutual friend did not keep in touch as he should.

Something happened at the end of second year. My other roommate and i would watch TV in the living room, but girl would watch the same show in her room. We'd laugh together, she in her room, us in the living room. Soon, she would close her door during the day, and we no longer heard her laugh. Then, she was always gone. i think, in some ways, i reminded her of a past she wanted to leave behind.

Today i met up with boy for our thursday lunch. We walked around, as per usual, wandering, attempting to decide where to eat; indecision has plagued our weekly lunch meetings since we started hanging out. We walked around and ended up south of dundas on Spadina. We ended up at the restaurant, and though we sat on the right side of the room this time, i still ended up facing the ducks, which still obstructed the view of Spadina Ave. We ordered different dishes, but i still got the red bean coconut drink, and he still tried it, still winced with disdain, and i still cleaned off the straw with my napkin.

Today i read my roommate's blog. i had left an anonymous comment some weeks ago, and she had just replied. She no longer lives at home, though she pays rent. Her room door is now open, but the room is often not graced with her presence. It is just the way it was before we were friends. Acquaintances, but only because of some sort of tangled web. We are separated by distance, but this distance is not a four hour plane ride. This is the kind of distance that cannot even be bridged like a two hour divide in time and a four hour divide in space can.
We communicate via email, but only when necessary. i'm still single. she has a boyfriend.
i no longer feel as though i need to be her friend, but i look back, and miss the days when we would sit together, eating cake, and enjoy each other's company.

It is funny how life has come back to the very place where it all began, almost four years ago. I'm still blogging when i ought to be studying.

tautology indeed.


i realized today...that when i graduate, i will no longer be able to get student discounts for anything!!!

adulthood is lame.

lundi, février 05, 2007

one of the best lines in a sermon.

okay..well, that is a bit of an exaggeration. Nevertheless, it was funny.

i've started listening to a sermon series entitled "Redeeming Ruth", and in his first sermon from this book, Mark Driscoll deals with the ongoings in Chapter One. At this point, he speaks of Orpah who by verse 15 has gone back to her people and "to her gods".

Here is the line of greatness:

"Because she looked like a Christian girl, but was faking it and was really a pagan girl, we're going to call her Oprah."


some new shots. *sigh* since i wasn't sure if they'd turn out, i opted to NOT get the photo shop to scan them....and then some of the shots turned out really nicely!! So, i've used my scanner to scan them...but drats, it's so old and dusty that the pictures look really grainy. oh well!

shot with medium format Kodak 400 black and white.

dimanche, février 04, 2007

because she told me to.

This is what shelly made me do:
-grab the nearest book to me,
-turn to page 123,
-read 4 lines down
-record the next 3 lines
-tag 3 people

"High scorers on the Romantic Beliefs Scale tend to experience more love, satisfaction and commitment in their romantic relationships than low scorers do, but romanticism does not predict which relationships are likely to last over a four-year span (Sprecher & Metts, 1999)."

p. 123 Chapter 4: Social Cognition. Intimate Relationships. 4th ed. Miller, Perlman, Brehm

tangent. here's another line from the textbook which proves to be fairly interesting.

"..surveys of men at the University of Wisconsin and Texas A&M University found that, if they found a woman attractive, very few of them--only 3 percent-- would offer her a date if they had no idea what she would say in response (Muehlenhard and Miller, 1998). Almost all of the men reported that they would either bide their time and look for signs of reciprocal interest or simply give up and do nothing at all if they weren't confident, before they even asked, that a potential date would say yes."

Just to clarify, i'm not reading this because i'm obsessed with "intimate relationships" or because i'm flaky. This is my textbook for a psychology course.

i tag: andrew mckenzie, joshua robinson and jonathan park.
another brief aside: these are three great York boys. ladies, they're single!


in other news...

i love these boys.

today, we were rockstars. yesss!

we are the sunday breakfast sandwich crew.

the thing that unites us all...(other than Jesus)... AND one of the only reasons why i just can't become a vegetarian...

jeremiah just pointed out that i forgot to mention how we all got sick after eating those fat-laden suckers.

shoot. i just realized that we are totally asianeriffic in all of these pictures. silly fingers!

samedi, février 03, 2007

10 things + 10 things (minus two).

10 things i love and am passionate about.

10. exploring kitschy neighborhoods
9. reading
8. writing
7. missions (which, falls under the broad category of people)
6. small start-up churches ( yay NCAC!)
5. french
4. evangelism (which, again, falls under the broad category of people)
3. art
2. music
1. people

10 things i dislike or am the most fearful of.

10. ...
9. ...
8. fake niceties
7. not seeing my friends come to know the LORD
6. failing (disappointing others)
5. making the wrong choices
4. not being effective
3. apathy
2. boredom
1. loneliness

Okay, so i didn't really have 10 things for both categories. So, some of the items may be lame.

Nevertheless, i think the point has been made. i love love love people.

As i contemplate what i want to do next year, i KNOW that it'll have to involve people.

i love friends. i love investing in people. i love listening to people talk. i love sitting in silence with people. Even mundane things become so much more bearable when there are people around. Let me say it again. i love people.

vendredi, février 02, 2007

thankful heart.

So, i thought it might be worthwhile to counterbalance that depressing post with something more uplifting. i don't want people to think i have gone off the deep end or anything like that. My post yesterday may have sounded depressing; i won't lie, i think, in some ways, i am very much struggling with despondency. The good news is, i've come to terms with this. By this, i mean the notion that i am not a supernatural human being, and that it is okay to struggle with things such as depression. Today, i left my house and felt freed from the burden of putting a smile on my face. Instead, i prayed for joy, knowing that joy does not necessarily need to be accompanied by a beaming grin. i've become okay with being honest with people, instead of feeling as though i have to put up a front for everyone and anyone. It isn't as though overnight i have stopped being depressed, or that the grey cloud has gone away. But, today, i preached the gospel to myself multiple times and realized how dangerous it is to take our eyes off the cross.

Many spiritual giants have undergone depression and despondency; Thomas Brainerd and Charles Spurgeon are just two names that come to mind. None of us can claim, however, that their lives went to waste because of these sufferings. There existed a difference between these two men and numerous other sufferers of depression, fifteen percent of whom choose to end their lives every year. This difference was that they experienced "a rock of electing love under [them] which would catch [them], so that in [their] darkest times [they] could still affirm the truth and goodness of God, even though [they] couldn't sense it for a season."

Here is what Spurgeon said about this struggle:
"Despondency is not a virtue; I believe it is a vice. I am heartily ashamed of myself for falling into it, but I am sure there is no remedy for it like a holy faith in God."

Here is what the psalmist says in Pslam 42:
"My tears have been my food
day and night,
while they say to me continually,
'Where is your God?'

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil
within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise
my salvation and my God."

Psalm 73:

"my flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."

i do not want to trivialize what i am going through, or what anyone else for whom bleakness knocks on the door experiences. When this blog is written, and all is said and done, it is still a verity that cloudy skies are still very much a reality in my life. My struggle is to preach the gospel to myself and believe it, despite the fact that God's presence may seem elusive on a daily basis. It is a fight to fix my eyes on Him and what He won for me on Calvary. This is the truth! Indeed, the Almighty God, the Abba who gives me life, the Alpha and Omega, has already conquered! Thus, this fight is not in vain and clinging tightly is not for naught. Instead, it is a joyous fight to maintain faith in future grace.

Please pray for me.

*edit: wow, this blog was REALLY cheesy....but i meant it..and it is true. so i will leave it up.