Sunday, July 31, 2011

New Testament Lesson 30: God Is No Respecter of Persons

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

Christus inside the Palmyra Visitor's Center
Scripture Block: Acts 10-14; 15:1-35

We are currently in Palmyra, New York visiting Church Historic sites. I missed the regular Sunday School class so glad there is an online version on LDS Living website on God is No Respecter of Persons By Ted L. Gibbons .

One of the lessons I learned is quite a fitting answer for me who feels so lucky to be able to have wonderful experiences in the US with my prince,knowing that some of my loved ones (friends and family) were having a ' not so fun ' time with life and some are having 'tough' times even. Oh well, I had those times too at some point! So I agree that our experiences are personalized.

(Taken at the Sacred Grove where Joseph Smith saw the Father and the Son!)

Howard W. Hunter observed:

Obviously, the personal burdens of life vary from person to person, but every one of us has them. Furthermore, each trial in life is tailored to the individual’s capacities and needs as known by a loving Father in Heaven” (Howard W. Hunter, “Come unto Me,” Ensign, Nov. 1990, p.18).

Friday, July 29, 2011

US Summer 2011: Rock Climbing In Castle Rock, Colorado!

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

Date: July 15, 2011
Location: Castle Rock,Colorado

No one knows rock climbing better than the residents of Colorado being located in the based of the majestic Rocky Mountains. So as a first timer in Colorado,USA,my must-do list includes trying out this demanding sport. My goal is to climb up at least one of the natural rock formations that abounds in this vibrant, mountainous US State.

Considered it done when I saw this castle tower-shaped butte called Rock Park, just a stones' throw - away from the home of my friend Tess and Justin Bridgman,my host for a couple of days while in Castle Rock, Colorado.

Based on this marker at the entrance to Rock Park, I learned that this historic landmark was the inspiration behind the naming of the Town of Castle Rock. The rock is shaped like a castle tower and is centrally located in the town center.

Rock Park has two trails - Summit Trail and Perimeter Trail which is generally considered as difficult. Equipped with water and chocolate bar in my backpack, our goal is to ascend through the single-tracked Summit Trail and then on descent, go along the Perimeter Trail.

And so we went - Justin,Tess, Oliver (their dog!) and me (the wanna be rock climber on another journey to gutsiness!!)

After a mile of uneven terrain hike, we reached the first base which afforded me panoramic view of Downtown Castle Rock. But my goal is to reach the star! I mean the huge star famous for the Castle Rock's annual starlighting ceremony since 1935.

So with Justin, I decided to climb more. Really gutsy huh! It was rocky and steep climb and there were times I almost gave up. But I kept pushing on (huh sounds like Miley Cyrus!). After a few minutes, I saw the US flag near the star backbone. I knew I reached the peak!

The breathtaking, panoramic views of the Downtown, I-25 corridor, Pikes Peak and the Front Range was all worth it!

(This is part of the 5-week US Summer Vacation series, which took place from June 30, 2011 to August 3,2011

For other US Summer 2011 post please click:
US Travel Posts

Thursday, July 28, 2011

US Summer 2011: Amazing Denver (Colorado),You Rock!

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

Date: July 15, 2011
Location: Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater

Located at the base of the majestic Rocky Mountains, Denver, Colorado packs in with breathtaking mountain scenery coupled with 300 days of sunshine each year.

To boast Denver's rocky gem and welcome me to this mile - high city (5,280 feet above sea level - exactly one mile high), my friend Tes Bridgman brought me to the world - famous Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre in Morrison County (west of Denver), which is also one of the official Colorado Welcome Centers.

Since the Amphitheatre and the Visitors' Center is closed for the day (for a dance event), we followed the hiking trail that led us to a more picturesque spot of the Red Rocks Park. Wow, the views are truly amazing!!!

From where we stood, I could see the 9,450-seat amphitheater flanked by 300-foot red sandstone rock formations. It is such a work of art! And with the on-going rehearsals when we were there, there is nothing like being treated to gorgeous views while listening to great music!

The Amphitheatre was the start and finish line of the reality show The Amazing Race 9. How amazing that I found myself there as well! Truly,Denver, You Rock !!!

(This is part of the 5-week US Summer Vacation series, which took place from June 30, 2011 to August 3,2011

For other US Summer 2011 post please click:
US Travel Posts

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

US Summer 2011: In Flight Cincinnati, Ohio!

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

Date:July 14, 2011
Location:Cincinnati, Ohio

It's no secret the Cincinnati Reds, baseball's first professional team, are an institution here. So on my connecting flight from Newark, New Jersey to Denver, Colorado,I took a picture in front of this store located in the Concourse C of Terminal 3 of the Cincinnati / Northern Kentucky International Airport. The airport has three terminals and Terminal 3 housed all Delta Connection flights which I took using my mileage.

(This is part of the 5-week US Summer Vacation series, which took place from June 30, 2011 to August 3,2011 and my second post on US airports In Flight series)

US Summer 2011: In Flight Series

1. Ten Reasons I Heart Las Vegas Mc Carran International Airport

2. New Jersey's Newark Liberty International Airport

For other US Summer 2011 post please click:
US Travel Posts

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

US Summer 2011: In Flight Newark, New Jersey!

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

Dates: July 9, 2011 (arrival Las Vegas), July 14, 2011 (Departure Cincinnati),July 21, 2011 (Arrival Denver) and August 3, 2011 (Departure Chicago)
Location: Newark,New Jersey

(connecting at the Newark airport's food court)

Both for my winter 2009 and this summer 2011 visit to New Jersey, United States(which is home to my boyfriend Mark for the last four years), I have flown in and out of the Newark Liberty International Airport . This makes this airport synonymous with the word 'prince' and instrumental in getting us connected!

In terms of flights, the Newark Liberty International Airport is said to be one of the busiest airports in the U.S and the international hub of Continental Airlines.

Though I have two instances of luggage mishaps (one was at a wrong terminal and the other on a different flight with me), there are a number of convenient services for travelers available at this first major US airport including food courts and a Travelers Aid booth making one feel welcome!

(This is part of the 5-week US Summer Vacation series, which took place from June 30, 2011 to August 3,2011 and my second post on US airports In Flight series)

US Summer 2011: In Flight Series

1. Ten Reasons I Heart Las Vegas Mc Carran International Airport

For other US Summer 2011 post please click:
US Travel Posts

Monday, July 25, 2011

US Summer 2011: In Flight, Mc Carran Las Vegas!

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

Date: July 9, 2011
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

Once again I was in the neon - lit desert city of Las Vegas, Nevada last July 9, 2011! This time though, I didn't do a 5-day vacay like in 2002 visiting The Strip , watching exciting free shows at the casinos or enjoying this so - called Sin City's own versions of the roller coasters, gondola rides, or Eiffel Tower! I was just there for four (4) hours!

So where I could possibly be? Here are some clues: (i) I have taken these two pictures there(ooops no scrolling down yet, pls. haha), (ii) I was bombarded with slot machines after slot machines upon exiting the gate, (iii) the bright "Welcome to Las Vegas!" sign instantly put me in a great mood, and (iv) I have spotted a sign that says "what happens here, stays here (just a friendly reminder)! Nah. Not at one of the hotels or casinos (although the place looks so much like both a hotel and a casino!).

Drum roll... For the first time, I found myself inside the Clark County's Mc Carran International Airport! I have a four - hour connecting flight to Newark, New Jersey from San Francisco, California. How boring could that be!

To my chagrin this airport sure isn't boring! In fact, from a traveler's standpoint I enjoyed having to wait (eventhough,as initially intended for that long lay over, I wasn't able to meet friends who live in this so-called Entertainment Capital of the World).

McCarran International Airport consists of two separate terminal buildings with 95 aircraft gates, including four (4) international. It is unique in the sense that if offer's me another side of the "Vegas experience" as soon as I stepped off the plane.

Although not the top awardee for the best big airport in the US, Mc Carran is, to date, my favorite airport (among those more popular others I have flown in the US including the modern and spacious SFO). All the things I hope for in an airport is here! I listed the Ten Reasons Why I Love Mc Carran (not the Senator,but the airport!!):

1. Plenty of Seating

As I stepped off my flight, I saw plenty of seating options in front of tv screens in addition to the ubiquitous slots machines (which doesn't attract me coz I don't gamble!) but fascinating to see anyway. Besides,it wouldn't be the main Vegas airport without a view of The Strip (called Air Strip) and slot machines.

2. Free Public Wifi

Nothing like killing time in the terminal without paying a premium for it. Yes, this airport has a FREE Wifi (anywhere at the terminal!). I was able to take advantage of the free internet to get all of my work done.

3. Plenty of Laptop Stations

Laptop browsing on the airport chairs sans a table isn't very comfortable. So the real plus in this airport is plenty of laptop stations with wide individual table cubicles and comfortable chairs! Also at no cost!!!

4. Wall of plugs!

Speaking of plus, what would be a better way to enjoy the free wifi on a free, wide comfortable laptop station than having a great amount of free outlet plugs! That's what all airports need a charge up wall. I was able to charge my netbook, camera and my cellphone, all at the same time!

5. Cellphone Plugs

But if you only need to plug in your phone (or other electronics) and you forgot your cable wire, there are easy-to-charge outlets to plug in for a fee. Rapid Chargers is everything for $10!

6. Smart Lockers

After doing all my contract reviews/FBing and blogging, I felt inclined to go around and eat and shop. But I have a huge,heavy, backbreaking backpack to carry around!Not FUN! Good thing Mc Carran has plenty of lockers beside the laptop stations where I stored my bag using Smarte Carte's state-of-the-art biometric technology. Smarte Locker is a self-serve locker using the touch screen rental point. For a $2, I was able to roam around for an hour!

7) Well - Marked, Flat and Well - Kept

These adjectives refer to the airport being well - marked that makes it easy to navigate despite being big, having escalators that are flat(my pet peeves), and bathrooms that are spacious and well-kept. For me these are the three must-haves for an airport - coz I suck at directions, escalators and need bathroom fix!

8. Pretty decent shops

The airport has more than 50 retail shops which are pretty decent and make the 'get- it- now and leave' kinda gifts readily available. And for chocolate lovers like me,the 'in' thing in Mc Carran is the Ethel Chocolate Lounge where you can splurge on this sweet sensations! (why I didn't buy some? my next post will explain haha)

8. Decent Restaurants

The airport also has a good selection of places to eat with its nearly 30 restaurants, lounges, and snack bars. Whether you want a sandwich, quick lunch, sit down meal, sit at the bar, have a drink and watch the game, or just grab a snack, this airport seems to have all the choices.Granted, they are expensive, but I can't think of any airport where this isn't the case.

9) Airport Museum

Located on the Esplanade, Level 2 is the Howard W. Cannon Aviation Museum. This small museum is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at no cost! I visited the small branch of the museum located at the D gates where I exited, and was really fascinated with the displays. This is my first airport museum visited!

10) Place To People Watch

The people at this airport is quite a scenery. So if you are like me who loves to watch people, this is the place to be since travelers from all over the world arrive and depart through this airport for many reasons. I got to observe a diversified mix of human behavior!

Quite a pleasant experience for an airport. At Mc Carran International Airport!, a longg lay over comes with some perks!

(This is part of the 5-week US Summer Vacation series, which took place from June 30, 2011 to August 3,2011 and my first post on US airports In Flight series)

For other US Summer 2011 post please click:
US Travel Posts

Sunday, July 24, 2011

New Testament Lesson 29: The Number of the Disciples Was Multiplied

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

Scripture Block: Acts 6-9
Location: Freehold, New Jersey

I didn't have to teach this Sunday School lesson because I am currently in Freehold, New Jersey but theirs is Lesson 28 still. Of course that gives me no reason to murmur, but surely this is a simple example of a cultural diversity that I observe as I attend Sunday School in different States - California, Colorado, and New Jersey during my five-Sunday vacation.

The scripture block teaches us of the cultural diversities in the early church when the number of the disciples was multiplied, [and] there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration (Acts 6:1). Some of the new disciples include Philip, Stephen, Paul (formerly Saul) and how they encountered the Lord and learned the truth during their journeys. All of them tarried not after conversion (Acts 22:16) and stood as witnesses of Jesus Christ “at all times and in all things, and in all places.”

Like Stephen, Philip and Paul we are living in a time when the Church is growing rapidly. The Lord wants us to serve in His kingdom as it grows. And just as the "foot, the hand, the ear, and the eye are important in their different functions", so are all members of the Church important with their different qualities, talents, skills and experiences.

Elder James E. Faust said "As I have move into more and more countries in the world, we find a rich cultural diversity in the Church. Yet everywhere there can be a “unity of the faith (Eph. 4:13). Each group brings special gifts and talents to the table of the Lord. We can all learn much of value from each other. But each of us should also voluntarily seek to enjoy all of the unifying and saving covenants, ordinances, and doctrines of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ."

Saturday, July 23, 2011

US Summer 2011: Retracing Rizal's Steps in California!

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

I want to be a true blue 'Kalakbay ni Gat. Jose Rizal' by retracing his travels and adventures here and abroad. So, when I received my Rizal Passport at the occasion of Dr. Rizal's 150th birth anniversary, I never leave home without it (eventhough my destination is not one of the 27 sites featured). I carry the Rizal Passport wherever I go (just like what I do with my real passport), hoping to chance upon anything related to our national hero in the places I visit.

This was the same expectation I had when I went to the United States of America this summer. I know that Dr. Rizal has been to the U.S as it was indicated in the Rizal Passport. But which States and places, I don't have the vaguest idea.

Prior to the trip, I read Dr.Rizal's impression about the US when he said "I visited the largest cities of America with their big buildings, electric lights, and magnificent conceptions. Undoubtedly America is a great country, but it still has many defects".

Having been to the US a number of times (with at least 28 States visited), it becomes more difficult to narrow the list as almost all of the fifty (50) US States have big buildings, electric lights, and magnificent conceptions . Luckily I stumbled upon the Philippines Tripod Diary of Dr.Jose Rizal in the United States recently where I learned more details about his US travel as well as his impressions and experiences. Reading from the diary, I realized that I have actually retraced the trail of our national hero in the United States as the States and places he has been during his month-long voyage were the same places I visited during my month-long US Summer 2011 vacation!

Today, I write about the beginning of Dr.Rizal's sailing West commencing from Japan,arriving in San Francisco and continuing to Oakland and Sacramento,All in California. (The rest of his voyage passing along the American Southwest States of Nevada, Utah and Colorado and ending in New York will be the subject of another post).

For juxtaposition,here are some similar and contrasting facts of our identical travels in America:
Length of Travel: A little more than a month (Rizal - 13 April- 16 May 1888 /Mhe-anne- 29 June - 3 August 2011)
Point of Departure: Japan (Yokohama for Dr. Rizal, Tokyo for me)
Point of Arrival: San Francisco and New York
Type of Travel: Sea Voyage versus Air Travel
Mode of Transport: The Belgic versus Continental Airlines

1. JAPAN. On 13 April 1888, Dr. Rizal boarded an English steamer named The Belgic from Yokohama, Japan. He has been in Japan for more than a month and fell in love with the beauty of the country and a young woman named Seiko Usui (or O-Sei-San). His heart was heavy leaving as seeing the girl he loved is very uncertain.

In my case, I was more than happy to take my flight via Continental Airlines after a lay over of about three (3) hours in Tokyo. Unlike Rizal, I was looking forward to leave and excited to finally reach New Jersey to see my loving prince! We haven't seen each other for awhile and was so happy he got me tickets from Manila-Seoul-Tokyo-San Francisco-Las Vegas-New Jersey a a gift for our fourth anniversary as sweethearts.

2. SAN FRANCISCO. After two (2) weeks of voyage across the Pacific Ocean, the steamer arrived in San Francisco on April 28 (1888). The passengers were quarantined for a week which according to Dr. Rizal was done "in spite of the clearance given by the American Consul, of not having had a single case of illness aboard, and of the telegram of the governor of Hong Kong declaring that port free from epidemic"". Dr. Rizal was disturbed that the quarantine is a clear act of discrimination against the Asian passengers,more than a health issue.

On my part,the flight was 12-hours on an Economy Plus seat with 3 meals served. The immigration officer was friendly and after a quick check,he stamped a six-month entry on my passport.There was a huge line at the counter when I arrive, mostly Asian looking, who are either visiting or immigrating to the US.

3. PALACE HOTEL. As soon as the quarantine ended (May 4, 1888), Dr. Rizal checked in at the luxurious Palace Hotel located in Stockton Street, San Francisco. In commemoration of his stay in San Francisco, a marker was installed at the lobby of the Palace Hotel in 1951.

I haven't stayed yet at the Palace Hotel which is presently known as the Sheraton Palace Hotel not only because of the cost but because my BFF Dearie provides me a place to stay always when I'm in San Francisco.But I have seen this historic hotel a number of times in its location in the New Montgomery Street just a few blocks away from Union Square. Had I known that this is where Dr. Rizal stayed I would have taken some pictures of both the hotel and the marker installed between the Market and New Montgomery Streets.

4. GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE,FISHERMANS' WHARF AND MARKET STREET. In the diary, Dr. Rizal visited the Golden Gate, walked around the Market Street and China Town. All these sights are included in my must-see, must-do in San Francisco.The only difference is that I usually take the the Cable Car instead of walking.

5. OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA. The steamer left San Francisco on May 6, 1888 and sailed to Oakland and boarded a train (possibly a Southern Pacific Railroad train) that was loaded up on a train ferry at Port Costa. (I read that the only known train ferry service that transported trains from Port Costa to Benicia back in 1888 was the 424 feet long Solano train ferry in service from 1879 to 1930).

6. SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA. Dr. Rizal bought a 75-cent dinner at Sacramento, California and slept at the train coach. I did dine and slept in Sacramento courtesy of my host. For my experiences there please read Eureka! Sacramento, California .

(Sources: WikiPilipinas Jose Rizal Travels and Adventures

(This is part of the 5-week US Summer Vacation series, which took place from June 30, 2011 to August 3,2011 particularly in California)

1.Four Countries In One Day

2. Enjoying Cable Cars in San Francisco

3. Enjoying Union Square and Downtown San Francisco

4. Commuting Easy With Panoramic Views

5. Mad About Museum in Sacramento California

6.Museums Trekking in Sacramento,California

7. Catching Gold Fever In Coloma,California

8. Psyched With Mormon Battalion In Coloma,California

9. Eureka! Sacramento, California

10. Highway 49 Summer Adventures

11. At Home In Daly City, California

12. Fourth of July Double Beachy Celebration

13.Attending Court Hearing In Hayward,California

14.Discovering VTA and Exploring Downtown San Jose,California

15. Smelling the Roses and More in Santa Clara,California

16. Getting Freebies While Dining in San Jose,California

17.Historic Tour In and Around San Jose, California

18. Wedding Reception During Vacation

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