Thursday, 30 May 2013

Lerdie's Commencement and US Visit

It all began on the 5th May 2013. Joshua, Sarah, Bisfe and I went to Ipoh to cast our votes at the GE13 at SMK Seri Putra, Fair Park, Ipoh. Soon after that we left Ipoh for KL and got ready to fly to Houston. Our flight (only for Bisfe and I) was at 2.00am on the 6th May 2013. However, we have to be at the airport before 12 midnight. We checked in two luggage bags with 15kg each. The allowable luggage in Emirates flight to US is two 23kg bags for each person. The flight took 6 1/2 hours to get to Dubai. At Dubai we wait four hours before we took off again straight to Houston for 15 1/2 hours. This is the longest direct flight we have ever taken. I couldn't sleep on the KL-Dubai flight. Each time when I am about to doze off, it seemed that it was time to have meals. On the Dubai-Houston flight, I tried to get some sleep but it was day-time for us in Malaysia. My body clock did not want to sleep. So I have watched so many movies - more than all the ten years put together. I don't go to movies in Malaysia unless on very special occasions. After a long flight, we finally reached Houston. Everything was smooth including immigration and custom clearance. The Houston (George Bush Intercontinental) Airport was not crowded on the 6th May at about 4.30pm (US time which is 13 hours behind Malaysia). We waited for the Wangs to come and collect us. They finally came from Sugar Land (about 40 minutes journey) after about 45 minutes waiting. The weather was just nice and cool.

At the Wangs in Sugar Land, we slept for a few hours and have to get up so to avoid awakening at night. Dinner was at a restaurant in Sugar Land. The following day Grace Wang took us to visit her church Fort Bend Chinese Community Church and the Asian market (known as 99 Ranch) and have beef noodle lunch. We stayed at home after that until SP Wang returned from work. In the evening we went to the Sugar Land Mall. It was big but quite deserted, possibly not weekend. 

On the third day (8th May) the Wangs drove us to College Station and dropped us at Lerdie's place in University Place. We stayed in Lerdie's room in her little apartment with three other friends of Lerdie's. Lerdie stayed with Isbeth and her other flatmates. We cooked a meal for all that evening. 

On the 9th May, we went out to shopping in College Station Mall where Lerdie bought two dresses for her graduation and evening Malaysian party. We visited the home of Lerdie's Mentor, Ken and Judy, from the ICF. In the evening we went to the Malaysian party for the Malaysian graduates. There were about 20+ Malaysian studying in A&M Texas. Eight of them were graduating this year. Lerdie was one of them. We have sumptuous Malaysian food. It was raining heavily which was unusual for College Station. The good thing was the party was held indoor. A couple of Malaysian families too came to attend their children's graduation were there too. Joshua came after the party because his plane was delayed. He came from Singapore and took a Ground Shuttle to College Station from Houston Airport. Simon, a Malaysian student reading his doctorate in A&M, took us in his car to the party and back.

On the 10th May, it was Lerdie's Commencement at 2.00pm. We took college coach to University and walked to the Reed Arena (it is an indoor sport stadium) where the Commencement was held. It was the third of the seven commencements for that Spring. Lerdie's Commencement was attended by thousands of people with about 1000 people graduating. Many photos were taken. Everyone was happy. 

On the 11th May, Joshua's friend from Dallas drove to College Station and stayed with us. He took us around the University. We visited all the places where Lerdie been before and studied. Surely we could not miss the Physics Building. It was a tiring and hot day for us. We walked a lot in the campus which is big and huge. In the evening Lerdie has a farewell party for her friends and CF members in her apartment ground near the swimming pool. It was a great success where everything turned out great and food was all consumed leaving little behind. It was a good and satisfied and tiring night. 

On the 12th May, which was Sunday, Lerdie's Korean church member, Vivian, took us to Grace Bible Church. We attended the morning English service. It was a huge church and lively. At 11.00am, I was invited to preach in the Chinese service, mainly of people from mainland China. It was not a large church but cosy enough and with lots of activities. Pastor Fu himself is from China and he came three years ago to pastor the Chinese church. We have lunch after the service in the church through pot-luck style. In the afternoon, the Wangs came from Sugar Land and took all of us and our luggage to Houston via Austin. It took 2+ hours from College Station to Austin and another 3+ hours from Austin to Sugar Land. In Austin we went to the Capitol, the centre of Austin and the University of Texas. We met with Tina, the daughter of the Wangs, over a dinner at a Mexican Food outlet, known as Golden Chorral. We reached Houston at about midnight.

On the 13th May, we went to the Holocaust Museum in Houston and later to NASA Johnson Space Centre and spend the whole day there. It was a good visit with lots of information and knowledge acquired. On our way back we were supposed to visit Galleria shopping centre but the car broke down half way. It was a miracle with our car broke down just in front of an Auto Centre shop. There was also a mechanic (who is a hispanic) who helped us to fix up the car. The radiator fan was having problem and caused the water to heat up stalling the car. We managed to get home after dinner minus the Galleria shopping.

The following morning on the 14th May, Joshua and Lerdie flew off to Boston and later to New York by themselves. They booked a taxi to fetch them to the airport. We went for a morning walk in Sugar Creek residential area in the morning after Joshua and Lerdie left. It was a refreshing time. In the afternoon we went to the Prosperity Bank, Walmart and Asian Market. 

On the 15th May we went to China town for lunch and a visit Christian book shop. In the evening we went to Lakewood Church for their Wednesday service. There were many people about half the stadium - maybe 5000+ people. Joel Osteen was not the speaker but he was there to introduce a speaker, Marcus, from Dallas. It was a live on TV series. 

On the 16th May we went to Chinatown for lobster lunch. It was very delicious. Later in the afternoon we got all our luggage (in total 4 big ones and one small one and a guitar) into Wangs car and head on to Houston airport. We managed to get everything through smoothly and flew at 4.30pm. This time we have a good sleep from Houston to Dubai stretch. Finally we reached KL at about 8.30am on the 18th May. 

My Reflection: 
We have a wonderful time in Houston and College Station. The Wangs were excellent and wonderful. They went all the way to entertain us. They even went to College Station and from there took us to Austin (2+hours drive) and from Austin back ti Houston (3+hours drive). The next day they took us to Nasa Space Centre and on the way back, their car gave up and the radiator fan was jammed. Fortunately we stopped right infront of the Auto Centre shop where they sell all vehicle parts. Outside the shop there was also a mobile mechanic (I think God has sent him - he was a hispanic). He helped us to fix up the car and finally after more than an hour, the car was fixed and on the road again. The next day after Jia Lerd and Tarng Jiun have left for airport to Boston, we went for a walk around the Sugar Land housing area. Later Aunty Grace took us to the bank to cash the cheque which was given by Pastor Fu of Grace Bible Church. From there we went to Walmart and Asia Market to do some shopping. The following day we flew off back to Malaysia. The luggage were many - 4 big bags and one smaller hand carry luggage and one guitar. We manage to take home all of Jia Lerd's barang barang which she has packed earlier for us to take. The Wangs gave us three luggage bags and many smaller items including 3 pairs of new shoes for me, a tubberware container and many hiasan for makmai. In fact she wanted to give us more things but we couldn't carry them any more. Before we reached KL, I have messaged Margaret to arrange for Andrew Lai's van to carry all our luggage. The Mercedes or Honda surely cannot contain all these luggage. 

My memories of this trip are many. 
1.   Meeting the Wangs who are so wonderful as host and friends. This is our first time of meeting.
2.   Been to A&M (Howdy) Aggie University - though their buildings are not exciting at all. 
3.   Attended the Commencement of Lerd. It was held in a stadium which they called Reed Arena.
4.   Went to Austin - even though it is for a short while.
5.   Met Tina (Wang's daughter)
6.   Spoke at Grace Bible Church Chinese section and attended Grace Bible church English section.
7.   Visited Nasa Johnson Space Centre.
8.   Visited Walmart.
9.   Visited Houston and tasted the best lobsters in Houston.
10. Visited Lakewood church (America's largest church) and saw Joel and Victoria Osteen. 

Though I didn't buy anything for myself but I have three pairs of new and good leather shoes.

Bisfe's reflection:

It was indeed a refreshing & blessed trip! We truly experiencing God's greatness throughout our journey in Texas!
When we were in Austin, we went to the Capitol & walk around the park; visited University of Texas, Austin where Tina studied her Computer Sc degree and currently she is still studying part time there for her MBA. She is an ambitious young & sweet lady, out spoken and approachable!

When we were in Houston, before visiting the NASA space center  we visited the Jews Holocaust Museum. Saw the ugly and cruel part of some human being and the awful past of those who suffered.

We thank God for this special privilege of visiting Texas! Praise God for guiding Jia Lerd all these years, providing her all her needs which includes all the friends and church members around her. Many have good comments about her. Glad to know she has lived her life to the fullest while she was in US almost 3 years (Left in Aug 2010). 

Lerdie, wondering whether you still remember when you received JPA offer in 2008 May, it was exactly on Mother's Day and this year, I just wish to say, " You have given makmai the BEST mother's Day gift by graduating with a satisfying result!" and a wonderful trip to Texas! 

All Glory to Him!   

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