Alaska Day 5: Exit[ing] Glacier.

Day 5, our second day in Seward, we went to see glaciers again, the day before on water, but this time on land! We visited Exit Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park. It’s a shorter and accessible trail, so pretty much anyone could walk the path and see it 🙂

Puddlegram! Exit Glacier reflected in a puddle.
My family enjoying the view of the glacier!

The sad thing is, Exit Glacier is, well, exiting! The picture below is the one of the closest vantage points the park’s trail takes us to view the glacier. In 2010, the glacier was much larger. I would have been able to touch the glacier from where I took this photo only 6 years ago. 100 years ago, the glacier, the mile trail we walked was essentially all glacier.I essence, the glaciers in Alaska have all been slowly shrinking since the end of the earth’s ice age, but in just the last decade, it’s been shrinking faster and faster, and Exit Glacier here is an up close and personal example of one of them.

This picture shows how far the glacier had been just back in 2010.

If that picture doesn’t scare you, how about this one? I took it from farther back where the glacier reached back in 2005, just eleven years ago (I was only ten years old, and I just turned 21 recently). I also added an indicator below to show where I was standing for the photo I took above of the 2010 sign.

The glacier’s size back in 205. In 11 years, the glacier has shrunk from 2005 sign to the one you see in the photo now. The “2010” arrow points to were I took the photo above this one- how large the glacier was in 2010.

What were you doing in 2005? 2010? Comment below 🙂

In the infographic below, Kenai Fjords National Park scientists also say that the glacier used to be much larger, and has been shrinking and melting more and more every year.

Information and graphic in this photo belong to Kenai Fjords National Park.
A mini-water fall within a crevice of the glacier.

My brother made an extra climb up closer to the glacier, and he got to touch it! Check out his Instagram post below, and follow him @timclau 🙂

A few non-glacier pictures taken along the trail. Cool to think that all the trees, rivers, flowers, and earth used to be frozen less than a century ago!

(Long Exposure) – river we had to cross to see the glacier.
(Macro) small flower that was along the trail to see Exit Glacier

We ended the day by going back to Seward and taking a stroll around Seward. Turns our there is large RV park by the bay, and lots of families either camping out or living in their RVs. It’s a beautiful place to be in the summer.

RVs and/or Campers around a fire.
The Seward Beach.

I hope you enjoyed these photos of Exit Glacier and the Seward Bay. However, I want to challenge you to educate yourself on the warming of Alaska. I know there is lots of controversy about the politics of global warming and climate change. However, I’m not asking you to look into politics, but to check out and see if beautiful natural wonders of Alaska-its glaciers for example-may soon cease to exist. Also, with glaciers gone, cute little tourist towns like Seward may lose its large amount of tourism, which is important for the town’s economic well-being (when no tourists come in the coldest months of winter, many Seward residents and workers actually leave for a break because there is no work for them).

The Natural Resources Defense Council, or the NRDC, a non-profit that aims to protect the earth’s natural ecosystem and the animals, plants, and humans within it. They have fought for clean water in Flint, Michigan and have campaigned against the antibiotics found in Kentucky Fried Chicken’s poultry. These are just two of the many projects they’re working on- and they reported the day I arrived back in Jersey that Alaska is having the hottest year ever recorded. Check out their tweet below:

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been tracking the impact climate change has had on Alaska as well. They say that there have been an increase in wildfires in the state, and its lakes and ponds are getting smaller due to warmer weather resulting in increased evaporation.

You can take what I say with a grain of salt. I’m not trying to convince you to believe everything I say, but I do hope that you would at least educate yourselves about the climate change in Alaska if you have not already. The unfortunate conclusion is that in just a couple of years, kids will never be able to see glaciers in Alaska anymore.

Soon there might not a be a glacier for us to see anymore 😦

But two truths are clear:
1. Alaska is having the hottest year that’s ever been recorded.
2 This glacier, Exit Glacier, has been shrinking faster and faster by the decade, and so are the other glaciers in Alaska.

For me, that’s enough reason to start demanding climate action when I can, and having a different perspective on how I treat my earth’s ecosystem- even back home in the suburbs of New Jersey.

What do you think of this “warming of Alaska”? I’d like to hear your opinion if you would like to share; comment below!

Thanks for reading! Be sure to check my past photo blog posts about Alaska by clicking on the images below 🙂

Day 0: 30 Hour Trip
denali  mount-1
Day 1: Denali National Park
Day 2: Rain in Talkeetna
Day 3: Talkeetna to Seward, and Views Along the Way
Day 4: Cruise Through the Gulf of Alaska

Alaska Day 3: Talkeetna to Seward, and Views Along The Way

Alaska Day 3: our day will finish down south in Seward. It’s 200+ miles south of Talkeetna, with Anchorage (where the airport is) in between. You should know that Alaska has two legs right? Well, there’s a little peninsula between the two legs- that’s where Seward is- on the south coast.

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We stopped by three places before reaching Seward:
1. Potter Marsh Wildlife Viewing Boardwalk – a boardwalk where there is a lot of grassland water. The water apparently was created by man, by accident. We saw a moose, eagle, and lots of other birds at the Marsh.
2. Beluga Point – a lookout point by the water viewing the Ocean between the peninsula and the West Alaska. There are apparenty Beluga whales that come by the coast, but we didn’t see any.
3. Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center – this isn’t exactly a zoo. This conservation center’s animals (beats, bison, deer, elk, etc.) are mostly hurt and/or orphaned, and the center takes very good care of them. Just last year, they released a large group of wood bison back into the wild. There are three bears- two were  orphaned cubs when their mother was shot. Another was found injured by a porcupine by some people snowmobiling in Alaska. I’m really glad that this conservation center is seeking to help animals, not just show them off for attention or money. 🙂


1. Potter Marsh Wildlife Viewing Boardwalk

Views of the water and grasslands at the Potter Marsh:Alaska-day-4-1Alaska-day-4-2Alaska-day-4-3

Some wildlife:

The moose we saw, wth the potter marsh in the background.


The moose we saw, wth the potter marsh in the background.



2. Beluga Point

View of southwest Alaska at Beluga Point.



3. Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

Deer 🙂
Aw, bear, I’m tired too.
This bison on the right is peeing!
Mom & Dad ❤

After the Conservation Center, we drove another 2 hour or so and made it to small town Seward. It was around 9 PM Alaska time, and most restaurants were closed, but we were able to find dinner 🙂 We would be staying in Seward for 3 nights. Stay tuned!

Thanks for reading! Check out some of my past posts by clicking on the images below, and keep a lookout for Day 4!

Also, you can see more pictures on Instagram:

Day 0: 30 Hour Trip
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Day 1: Denali National Park
Day 2: Rain in Talkeetna


Alaska Day 2: Rain in Talkeetna

Our second day in Alaska was rain-filled. However, we had a whole day in Denali National Park in the sun, and got to see the great Denali mountain, so we could only count our blessings! Our morning was pretty relaxed because of the rain, and then we drove from Healy, AK (our motel near Denali) back down south to our next stop, Talkeetna, AK.

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Healy to Talkeetna
Healy to Talkeetna

Without much to do outside because of the weather, we arrived at our lodging spot in Talkeetna around 4:00 PM Alaska time, or 8:00 PM EST. It’s a very lowly-populated little town, with on around 876 residents inside a square milage of 42.9 square miles. Talkeetna is a great place to find airplane tours to see areas around it (including Denali), and is also a prime spot to see the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights). Unfortunately, it’s too bright at night (it never really gets dark here) to see the Aurora during the month of June 😦

Our cabin in Talkeetna.

Because of the rain, we had a lot of free time. We were able to watch Game 7 of the NBA Finals entirely 🙂 Congratulations LeBron! Usually, on vacations like this, it’s very easy to want to use every hour of every day, but during our vacation, we’ve had a lot of time to relax and rest just as much as exploring the amazing state of Alaska. I’ve really enjoyed that and a lot of that goes to my brother Tim’s specific but flexible itinerary! Thanks bro!

Healy to Talkeetna

After the game, we decided to visit Talkeetna’s downtown. To walk there, we walked a path through the woods that required us to cross some train tracks. Train tracks tend to look nice in photos….. hahah!


Healy to Talkeetna

We reached downtown Talkeetna rather quickly, it wasn’t very far away. It consists of many little houses, mostly restaurants, bars, gift shops, and travel offices. It was cute, but it was pretty quiet and empty.

Healy to Talkeetna

We had dinner at the Wilderness Cafe, which had phenomenal seafood. As well as salmon, halibut is very popular here in Alaska. There’s Halibut at almost every restaurant, and it’s actually more expensive than salmon.

The Wilderness Cafe had cool dishes like seafood curry (with halibut, crab, salmon, shrimp, scallops, etc. all in one dish), a deep-fried salmon burger that my brother loved, and many other dishes.On our way in, a couple walking out said: “when we came in, the people leaving our table said it was worth the wait.” After eating there, my family agreed.  If anyone visits Talkeetna, I highly recommend eating here!

Wilderness Cafe, where we had dinner.
Healy to Talkeetna

After walking home a different route, we essentially rested for the night, getting ready for another long drive all the way down south to Seward, AK, where we would be staying three nights.

Healy to Talkeetna
Healy to Talkeetna

Talkeetna was a small town and it was rainy all day, so we didn’t get to do too much there. However, my family and I got to stroll through it’s quaint little downtown, have a great seafood dinner, rest up, and also watch the NBA finals 🙂

Thanks for reading! Click the photos below to read the last couple days in Alaska 🙂

Day 0: 30 Hour Trip
denali  mount-1
Day 1: Denali National Park

Alaska Day 1: Denali National Park

Day 1 after 30 hours of travel and a good early night’s rest (also adjusting to the 24 daylight called “Midnight’s Sun” here in Alaska), we were up early and were off by 7:15 AM to Denali National Park, home to Denali (formerly known as Mount McKinley), the highest peak in the US.

The only way to get into the park past a certain point is to use the park’s bus tours (the main road extends to 84-89 miles long, but private cars are only allowed to drive past mile 15 now). The bus we signed up for went from the parking lot to the 84th mile – Wonder Lake. The bus made about 8 stops give or take, and the bus also often stopped if there was any wildlife near the roads. The buses would be rotating very often, so if we wanted to stay at any certain spot and enjoy the view longer, hike a trail or two, or even camp, we could, and other buses could take us a long later. However we stuck with the same bus all day, and the trip went on from 7:30 AM till around 6:30 PM (almost 11 hours!). 168 miles on not the best terrain, with stops along the way.

Bus tours are the best way for us to see Denali National Park. (Sony !7)

Everywhere we went, there was just so much distance to see for miles and miles, and beautiful mountains surrounding us.





Denali (Mount McKinley) and the reflection pool.

We saw a good amount of wildlife.

A moose about 100-200 yards from our bus.
Bear and Cubs
Bear and Cubs
Male Moose

Our bus ride might have been great, and the car ride could be boring, but our driver might have been the highlight of the trip. A school bus driver during the year, she gets to work in Denali National Park, interacting with people, telling stories,  or make lots of jokes. Thanks, Wendy, for being a compassionate and loving driver and tour gjide.

Our cheerful and incredibly bus driver and tour guide, Wendy.
Family Photo with Denali. #30percentclub
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My favorite picture of the day for sure!

On our bus, we met an older couple who owned an RV and have been driving for a long time. The lady told us we must get food at the “Salmon Bake” and that it’s worth it. It was! Salmon and Halibut are Alaska’s favorites. Also, Happy BIrthday Mom!

Dinner (delicious salmon and halibut).

Long day. Stay tuned for Day 2 🙂

Day 0: 30 Hour Trip.

Alaska Day 0: 30 Hour Trip

Our family’s vacation spot for the summer this year is Alaska! None of us have been to Alaska before.

Day 0: 30 Hour Trip (Thursday)

Our travel from home to Alaska was long and tiring. It consisted of:

  • Franklin, New Jersey –> New York, New York – 1.5 drive.
  • New York, New York –> Portland, Oregon – 6 hour flight.
  • Portland, Oregon –> Minneapolis, Minnesota – 3.5 hour flight.
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota  –> Anchorage, Alaska – 6 hour flight.
  • Anchorage, Alaska –> Healy, Alaska – 5 hour drive.

Originally, we only planned to go to Portland, then straight to Anchorage. However, our flight from NYC to Portland was delayed too long, and so by the time we arrived in Portland, the flight to Anchorage, AK that night had already left, and the next available flight to Alaska wasn’t till the next night. It was important to get to Alaska on Friday early enough to drive up to Healy by Friday night, 5 hours north of the airport because we had reserved 7:15 AM tour bus tickets for Saturday morning.

After some searching and work with the Delta Airlines workers, we found a solution. We could get to Anchorage the next morning by flying a 12:30 AM flight to Minneapolis, Minnesota, and then go to Anchorage from there. As compensation, we were given food vouchers for use in the airports. Free food! 🙂

My father using our free food vouchers after arriving in Anchorage, AK! – Taken with iPhone 5s

We left our house at around 2:00 PM EST Thursday afternoon. We arrived at our motel in Healy, Alaska at approx. 5:30 PM Alaska time (9:30 PM EST) Friday evening. Just about 30 hours.

As we approached Anchorage, AK on our third flight of the trip, the plane was at a low enough altitude to see the snowy mountains in the sea. We were able to see some nice views from the furthest back seat of the plane!

View from our plane, approaching Anchorage, AK. – Taken with iPhone 5s
My mother taking photos out the window. – Taken with iPhone 5S.

When we arrived, all I had to do was to look out the windows of the airport, and I could get a feel of what the views would be like in Alaska. Not a lot of buildings, and just miles of open space and mountains far away. Beautiful.

View of Alaska from the Airport window right after exiting the plane. – Taken with Sony A7.

We received our rental car, and drove 5 hours north from Anchorage to Healy.

Finally made it. Nice little diner next to our Motel in Healy. Got my milkshake 🙂 – Taken with Sony A7.

Finally, we arrived. We had an early morning coming up the next morning, a 7:15 AM bus ride at Denali National Park, not too far from our motel. There weren’t too many photos taken during travel, but it was a long one. Stay tuned! 🙂

A Tribute to Christina Grimmie: “Till he returns or calls me home, here in the pow’r of Christ I stand.”

I was going to write a blog post (for the first time in months) about my Flag Day and my birthday and a cute flashback story about the cancelled Flag Day party my brother was planning at 6 years old, but I decided to write about Christina Grimmie. I was shocked when I read about her murder. A few days later, her death still brings me to tears (as well as the 50+ lives taken at Pulse Orlando).

I first heard Christina Grimmie’s powerful voice in a cover of Nelly’s “Just A Dream” with YouTube stars Sam Tsui and Kurt Hugo Schneider, and quickly became a fan (Sam Tsui has already covered the song again as tribute to her). She’s pretty much my age, and she was a fellow Zelda fan!

However, you may not even know this, but Christina Grimmie was a woman of faith, and I may not have really kept up with her music recently, but I truly look up to her.

“She holds her faith so closely to her… I think it’s not about religion and it’s not about good deeds, it’s just that she had faith,” said superstar Selena Gomez, when she paid a tribute Christina Grimmie. They were old friends, and Selena’s father was also Christina’s first agent.

As part of the tribute, Selena sang “Transfiguration” by Hillsong Live:
“Lead my longing heart to the high ground, to the clear view
And in awe I’ll be there beholding You
The only song my soul can find to sing is:
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, my King”

Justin Bieber paid tribute to Christina as well, holding back tears as he sang “Grimmie, can you hear me?” during the performance his single, “Purpose”.

“Thinking my journey’s come to an end
Sending out a farewell to my friends, forever peace
Ask you to forgive me for my sins, oh would you please?
I’m more than grateful for the time we spent, my spirit’s at ease…
…And you’ve given me the best gift that I’ve ever known
You give me purpose everyday and in every way.”

Christina Grimmie found a way to re-connect Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber (if only for a little bit)… and the entire music industry. In the past few days, artists everywhere were paying tribute to Christina.

Charlie Puth sang See You Again for her. Drake Bell  (love that she’s a huge Drake & Josh fan). Fifth Harmony. Meghan Trainor. Pretty much everyone else.

Christina had a phenomenal voice. It took less than 15 seconds for Usher and Shakira to choose her in The Voice, and later Adam Levine and Blake Shelton, all legends in their own musical genre. Levine said about her not the show: “you turn around, and you see how engaging and passionate.. you’re more comfortable than I am when you’re up there.”

But what makes her so special is that she always had a chipper attitude and valued the people and the things that she loved the most. After her audition on The Voice, Adam Levine asked her after her audition, “…what do you love, who inspires you the most?” Christina responded, “my mom, she’s had breast cancer three times… I love my mom and I’m happy I get to do this for her.” She chased her dream. She was young (only a year older than myself) and her road into the music industry wasn’t necessarily easy (always putting up YouTube covers, participating in The Voice, opening for Selena Gomez, etc.) Through all that, she kept her identity Christina was often vocal of her faith, which is definitely not the most popular thing to do in the music industry. Also, she always boasted that she was a huge geek, a huge fan of Nintendo’s “Legend of Zelda” (her YouTube name was “zeldaxlove” and she never changed it), which isn’t exactly something most female pop stars brag about. She was so certain of her identity, and it’s almost evident that it comes from her faith.

But Christina herself provides hope in what seems to be a devastating, hopeless, and terrible last couple of days in the U.S. (I have barely even mentioned the 50+ people who’s lives were taken this past weekend in Orlando… all wonderful, everyday people who were loved by their families. #QueerLivesMatter) All you have to do is listen to her rendition of “In Christ Alone” which she says is: “one of my favorite songs.. like ever.”

Right around 0:56 in the video is more than adorable. The way she hesitates and messed up her keyboard chords is a sign that she really means what she is singing.

The lyrics say it all:
“No guilt in life, no fear in death, this is the power of Christ of in me
From life’s first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny
No pow’r of hell, no scheme of man, can ever pluck me from his hand
Till he returns, or calls me home, here in the pow’r of Christ I stand
-“In Christ Alone” by Keith & Kristyn Getty

As she ends her video, Christina cheerfully says: “see you guys another time… bye!”

Indeed. See you another time, Christina. Rest in peace, and may your story always inspire others to love those who matter around you, to be themselves regardless of what the world says, and through it all to have faith- to confidently sing regardless of how desperately confused and hurt regarding the disaster happening around us: “till he returns or calls me home, here in the pow’r of Christ I stand.”

grimmietribute(photo taken by me! I still incorporated some photography into this blog post @narcol_optic_photography)

The Jasmine Series: Part I

It’s been almost a year since I’ve pursued learning the art of photography and all the knowledge, skills and techniques behind it.

I really enjoy astrophotography (pictures of the night sky) the most, but I also love learning about other photography styles, like macro photography and sports photography.

One very important style is portraiture (photos of people) and fashion photography. This is different than candids or photos of events where the subjects of the photo don’t really know they’re being photographed. Instead, the photos have been planned, and subject knows they’re being photographed.

This style is important. But it’s been hard for me to learn. When taking photos of a model, I don’t really know how to direct them. And to have confidence in that takes experience, and to gain experience takes practice and the awkwardness that comes with it.

That’s where Jasmine comes in. She’s been a very close friend of mine since my freshman year, and she loves fashion. So I asked her to help me gain more experience taking portraits.

Let’s be straight here. It’s totally awkward taking a friend out and taking pictures of them. We’re friends, so it’s not like a professional photographer and a model, it’s a friend who likes taking pictures and a friend who dresses well. Big difference. But she was cool enough with the learning curve, and didn’t mind the awkward posing (or not posing) and me standing around with a camera trying to figure out what the heck to do.

Jasmine and I have worked together on four different occasions (that I can remember). Jasmine’s 21st birthday is this week, so I decided to make five posts in five weekdays as a project for myself to get me blogging again and also a thank you to her. The first four days will feature one occasion each. The last one is TBD 🙂

The first occasion was last Spring on April 16th, 2015, at Johnson Park.

Re-editing these photos ten months later, it’s nice seeing what I did/didn’t do well back then. Some photos (like the first one below) came out almost perfectly, and I’m very proud of it. However, there are some obvious flaws even among my favorite shots of that day. The biggest flaw is lighting (like in the second photo below). With the sun as the only source of light outside, the sharpness and quality of the picture will be pretty easy to obtain (fast shutter speeds, higher f-stop numbers and lower ISOs), but where the sunlight comes from is a big deal. With one source of light, there are shadows, even in a person’s face due to the human facial structure or random objects. This can create a portrait where the face has very obvious shadows and dark spots, which is not good even though the photo is nicely composed otherwise (like the second photo below). It’s nice to look back at photos and learn from my mistakes.

Anyway, here you go:




Look for The Jasmine Series Part II Series tomorrow, Tuesday 3/1/16.


Septoplasty Surgery Today

7:35 AM – Friday, January 8th, 2016. 

As I am typing this out on my phone, I am in my way to get surgery today (septoplasty).

This is a surgery to fix my deviated septum. I like to think a “deviated septum” as a doctor’s nice way of a describing a crooked nose. The septum is the structure the two nostrils, and mine is deviated so much that it affects my breathing very negatively, and also makes it very easy to have a sinus infection with all the congestion. This is also causing a sort of sleep apnea at night because of the hindered breathing, not allowing enough oxygen into my body when I sleep at night.

I was diagnosed with Narcolepsy with Cataplexy only two years ago in the summer of 2014. Narcolepsy is essentially the inability of the brain to process sleep cycles correctly or consistently, resulting in excessive daytime sleepiness and unrestful sleep. Cataplexy often comes with Narcolepsy, and it consists of muscle weakness attacks as well as sleep paralysis (body asleep brain awake and conscious) and hallucination. It took me a while to come to grips with it. I would use narcolepsy as an excuse to not be responsible in studies at school and in service at church, and also as an excuse to be selfish and not love others. After a year of difficulty, I am starting to get a hang of this life of constant sleepiness during the day and unrestful sleep at night. I realized that I need to accept the struggles present in my life – especially my sleep disorder – in order to have joy in life.

A year later, this past fall, my general practitioner, Dr. Eck, realized that I have a deviated septum and that it made my sleep at night very unrestful. He suggested a possibly surgery and the ENT doctor he referred me to agreed. So I’m about to have septoplasty.

Here’s one of the many cat scans of my head, haha.

Another diagnoses and a surgery would sound like a disappointing moment, but for my family, my friends, and I, even my doctors, it’s a sense of hope. My condition has a chance to improve, even after I’ve learned to live life with it! It may not help my excessive sleepiness at all, but it would certainly help my breathing and constant sinus infections.

So if you’re reading this, I ask you to pray. Not just a prayer of petition that the surgery will go well and that there may be healing according to God’s will, but a prayer of adoration and thanksgiving- that God has given me peace about the difficulty I have faced, and that He’s given me an amazing family, loving friends, and great doctors to try to help me and give me hope.

EC Retreat 2015 Flowers Daytime (1 of 13)
The biggest breakthrough for me was to come to peace with the difficulty God is allowing me to go through.

“Many are the plans in a persons heart, but it is God’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21

A New Year’s Celebration Like No Other (Urbana Through A Lens: Day 5, Part II)

Urbana Day 5 part II:

Night Session Part 1: Steve Colby (from Canada, former missionary to Sierra Leone)
“Through global partnerships, God has totally ruined our lives for global missions.”
-“North Americans need to leave home and focus on learning from our global partners.”
-“When we go, (1) we  gain persepective, (2) we grow in faith and character, (3) we obey Christ’s command to go into all the nations, (4) the gospel gets bigger and Jesus gets bigger, and (5) we return with a story to tell… that story we tell challenges our friends as well and the University.”
-“It’s not convenient… Jesus disrupts our self made plans.” 
<– Here Colby echoes one of my all-time favorite Bible verses and proverbs: Proverbs 19:21
“One question: are your bags packed?”

Night Session Part 2: Dr. Patrick Fung returns to conclude the conference (whoo!!):
-People first thought that the earth was the center of the universe, until Copernicus discovered that the earth and planets revolved around the sun. In the same way, “we are not the center of the universe.”
Matthew 28 – cosmic significance.
“Worship is the ultimacy of missions.”
“We have lost the fear of God when we see the work of God.”
-“Without the fear of God there is no revival. [Rather,] there is a place for proper fear of God.”
“Persecution will never kill the church, but a diluted gospel will kill the church [and] the loss of passion to share the gospel will kill the church.”
There must be a “sense of urgency and joy to share the good news.”
“Maybe you think you’re a failure. [But] Jesus came to [the disciples and] received them as they were. [He] trusted them with responsibility and the Great Commission. We must ourselves experience the good news of forgiveness.”
-“Salvation is found in no one else. Resurrection changes everything. We experience the power of the Risen Lord.”
-“[We must] move from self-sufficiency to Christ-sufficiency.”
The Great Commission does not start with a command, but with a statement and declaration that Jesus is lord over everything. Dr. Fung quoted Hudson Taylor again: “If Jesus is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all.”

-Jesus is Lord over:

  1. the church.“we must let go of ethnic pride. We brand the name of Christ, What brand do you carry through your characters, deeds, and words?”
  2. all society and cultures.“a right relationship with God involves a right relationship with people.”
  3. all creation“God cares and created this world. Creation care is not a political agenda.”

-“He has risen. He is Lord. What story will you tell?”

To send us off, Shaylen Jackson (our coach for the week) gave us these ways to our Urbana journey:

  1. Rest
  2. Process
  3. Move into mission.
  4. Share your story.

I’m doing a lot of the rest (and also processing) right now. Lots of sleep since I’ve gotten home on Friday.

New Year’s Celebration:
Leading up to midnight, Urbana finished off with about two hours of praise, highlight videos, and drama team skits. I’m not going to go into much detail, but with the whole week to get to learn the new songs, as well as this being the last session together as a large group of 16,000, it was a great moment of praise. I was thinking that of all my New Year’s Eve celebrations as a 20 year old, I’ve never experienced one more heartwarming and exciting as this one. No “Dick Clark’s Rockin’ Eve” this year, no watching the famous ball descent, there was a lack of tradition and I was away from family, but I was with a different family, singing my heart out with them together to praise God. What a moment.

After the last session, I waited a bit to run to a bunch of a familiar faces (from church and school fellowship) that I barely had time to say hi to all week. It was so great to give them a hug and say “Happy New Year.”

A group of roommates from CCF/RCCC/Rutgers/UMaryland/???

I spent a couple minutes after the New Year had kicked off outside, watching those who had taken busses get ready to head home. There were many coach busses lined up in front of the stadium, even Coach from Canada! I took a moment to understand how many people had come to St. Louis from so many different places, and through various modes of transportation.

So in that train of thought, I tried to make a photo to express that feeling. I took a quick long-exposure (oxymoron) of people walking pass this bus. Let me know what you think, haha!


I also took a quick moment to appreciate the security and policemen working on the night New Year’s Eve. Then I realized that there were also Intervarsity workers and volunteers around the whole city directing traffic and creating a safer environment for us. I stopped by and asked these two wonderful IV workers if I could take a picture of them. I also said thanks :).


And I think that’s the heart of missions and it’s a good way to sum up all the wonderful things I learned during my Urbana 2015 experience. These two IV workers (I wish i jotted down their name) are so eager to give us college students an safe environment to learn more about God’s mission and worship at Urbana, that they’d give up their Christmas vacation and brave the cold weather. When I was thanking them (and asking them to take a picture for my blog hehe), they were also quick to ask me how Urbana was for me. It’s this selfless love that they were showing us- the lifestyle of showing Christ’s love to others, that I think missions is all about.

Dr. Fung said (and quoted above), “worship is the ultimacy of missions,” and David Platt said that “we manufacture a heart for missions but we miss out on a heart for Christ.” 

Worship is a lifestyle. Missions is also a lifestyle. I am learning now that missions isn’t necessarily just about going into unreached places of the world to preach the gospel (which is very very important), but is an everyday lifestyle of loving others with the love that Christ showed us.

This concludes my Urbana blog post series. Thanks for reading! I will probably post a couple takeaways I had from the conference, as well as my Hack4Missions experience though 🙂


The Blessing of Technology (Urbana Through a Lens: Day 5 Part I)

(I’m pulling a Harry Potter Deathly Hallows and Mockingjay here. Part I and Part II for the last day, haha. I’ve been working on this post for like two days and there’s just so much.)

Technology can be such a hindrance in our lives, socially, physically, mentally, spiritually. While I certainly don’t believe social media, Netflix, video games, and the like are bad things- in fact, I love them. However, I can say for sure that I have personally failed many times when it comes to using them in moderation. I have used entertainment and social media as a way to escape reality, and squandered away time I could have used for anything else.

However, on Thursday, I was reminded through the failure of my physical body that technology is a wonderful gift from God, and that as a follower of Jesus, I should do all that I can to use it for Him.

I woke up on Thursday feeling terrible. I had been getting congested more and more every day since before Urbana, and the lack of quality rest must have made it worse. I missed breakfast for the first time during the trip, and slept all the way till about half an hour before the the main morning session at 11 PM.

I was in NO condition to go anywhere. I was tired, sick, and completely congested. I think the word “congested” is as detailed as I’ll go. However, instead of sneezing my way into the stadium, I was able to watch from my hotel room on my laptop, thanks to the online stream Urbana was providing.


Morning Session Part 1: Christine Taylor (from London)
-“Joseph of Arimathea used what influence he had to honor Christ’s body.”
-Advocacy includes speaking out to influence others, but it also incudes showing care to the hurt parts of the body… to pray.
-“Look to what you can do to help the hurting suffering body of Christ.”
-Bring a prayer warrior matters. Sometimes for missionaries, knowing they’re not forgotten changes everything.”
Morning Session Part 2: Allan Matamoros (from Costa Rica)- “The harvest in plentiful, but the workers are few.”
-Allan shared his experience in cross-cultural missions. His native tongue is Spanish, but he has learned English, and now also Arabic.
-He said that there are more Muslims that have come to Christ in the last couple decades than there have been in the 1000 years before. The mission has come to us.
Our purpose is to attract others to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.”
-“The harvest in plentiful, but the workers are few.”
Morning Session Part 3:  Urbana director Tom Lin led us in a call to commitment. Here’s an numbers graphic from Urbana’s social squad regarding the responses to this call to commitment.

Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 6.34.24 PM
taken from the Instagram page of @UrbanaMissions

Hack4Missions Presentations:

Getting a real quick lunch at the restaurant downstairs, I quickly passed out again. However, I mustered enough enough energy to get up around 3 P.M. for my team’s Hack4Missions presentation. There were three awards: Best Technology, Most Impactful, and Crowd Favorite. Our team actually ended up winning Most Impactful! Our team was called #UrbanaRouterHack. There’s a brief summary about the project here: I’ll be posting about it later in a post dedicated to this my time in this track.


#UrbanaRouterHack team. Thanks to my friend George for taking the photo!
#UrbanaRouterHack prototype.

Here’s a video I made for our team’s presentation. I was given 45 seconds out of our 3 minute presentation and demonstration, so I tried my best to do what I could with that time!

Even though all these teams were in some sense competing against each other, there was a sense of unity among all of us participating in Hack4Missions. We were all putting our time, effort, and tech-experience together to further God’s kingdom. It’s technology that was bringing us together.

Technology is such a wonderful gift from God. But because of sin, humans take God’s gifts and use it for their own gain. Thursday afternoon I was thinking: How can I use technology for Christ?