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Happy New Year-!...Reflections from Year 2004

Hola…. Kamustaka….Hallo…..Atisin…These are some forms of hello in some of the languages (Spanish, Filipino, Norwegian, and Ghanan respectively) I’ve grown to know this past year and before. It’s a cultural (see UMMAlpha) opportunity I’ve took advantage on another year living in this small rural college campus community in west central Minnesota-Morris. Before another year ends living in Morris since 1999, I would like to reflect God’s goodness….

"Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD , all the earth."-Psalm 96:1

2004 began at Discovery Middle School when I was helping with the annual “See You At the Party” (see, a youth all-night “New Year’s Eve” party outreach (music, games, and all sorts of activities) in Alexandria that started originally in Morris (with the help of UMM Alumn 99’/Friend-Mark Haugen or D.J. Segue). I started the year after the party e-mailing (a common activity I’ve been doing since coming to Morris) to as many youth as the Follow-Up Co- Coordinator (sharing growing tips on the personal relationship with their Heavenly Father). Why? I’ve met too many youth who haven’t been bless with that guidance (single parent, adopted, foster family, dysfunctional environment, etc…) as some youth that may have more than their peers. In fact, this past Fall, I’ve been asked to share my experiences in helping co-start a county-wide mentoring program (see SCYmentoring).

I averaged close to a “once a month” trips to visit my family-friends in St. Paul due to the many events or even once in a life-time moments. January was a big month as my younger brother-Marcelo/Ceo (2 years younger than me) was the first of the siblings (I have an older sister, Thelma, one year older) to get married (to Khua, a Hmong American) for the first time! A week after, my mom and dad celebrated their “thirty something” wedding anniversary. The youth (Cory) I work “one and one” had a memorable time visiting the “once in a lifetime” Ice Palace and Twin Cities Festival in St. Paul too. Then I became “Uncle Sal” (learned how to do this after my loving Aunt Toni, who moved to Florida for retirement Thanksgiving weekend) towards the end of the year, which I was blessed to spend a 1-week vacation with my niece -“Alyssa”...

(picture through cell phone camera on 12/9/04)

and my whole family between the Thanksgiving and Christmas Holidays since I’m scheduled to work (group home) on Christmas Day. However, I don’t feel bad because I’m learning how to celebrate Christmas (giving and sharing the “goodnews” of hope and etenal life through Jesus’s birth, death, and resurrection) every day throughout the year through words and actions in Jesus’ love (John 3:16)!

This year was met with challenges (e.g. issues caused by sins of others and my own) too, which I can’t describe “my own” specifically here. Events that happened locally, nationally, and globally are listed down below. However, I learned a lot as I dig deep into God’s word, prayer, and constant fellowship for guidance and direction with the the help of others (friends, local church, and family (in many meanings)! I’ll continue to learn and grow (if I let God help me) the next year and many years ahead!

"Yah-you betcha!"-a popular Minnesota Norwegian saying around here! I was given an opportunity to represent the City of Morris with 15 others in the ”All American City Finalist competition in Atlanta mid-year. Despite not making to the “final ten”, this opportunity opened to many doors in getting “more involved” in the community:
-Blandin Leadership Retreat in Grand Rapids and Alexandria, MN
-Morris Leadership Project (teaching English as a Second Language to local “migrant workers”)
-many relationships inside and outside “my usual comfort zone” throughout this diverse campus-community in many ways (Prairie Design Homepage small business
, Prairie Renassaince Cultural Alliance, etc…)
I even had the opportunity to run the Morris Prairie Pionner Days 5K Run, which brought some “old stamina” from my “old days” of running long distance for my high school track team.

Heading to 2005
I’m looking forward to a New Year-2005 as I start to “close the books” on 2004. However, I need to constantly remember and be thankful of God’s goodness this past year to keep going on to the next year. Yes, we live in “trouble times” (cancer, deaths, natural disasters, terrorism, etc..) but also we can’t forget the “good times” (births, baptisms, graduations, weddings, concerts, sports championships/moments, etc...) to persevere through the up-coming seasons and challenges. If you don’t look forward to the years ahead-ask yourself this question: “Where am I putting my hope in (finances, own self, government, etc..”) totally?....Jesus…Heavenly Father (see my personal testimony) ! I love reading those quotes in church signs when I travel. One of them that I like to remember is, "Don't forget to count your blessings". Reflect and write down what you've been thankful for this past year before you move on to 2005. Then if you have already have put your hope (e.g. peace within) in God, “How are you going to be a blessing with what God has given you (gifts, talents, skills, interests, etc…) to others “unfortunate” as you are: locally? Nationally? Gobally? Seek Him daily for His purpose for your life! Learn from past mistakes and pray!

for more flashbacks…Sal’s 2003 Reflections

Challenges and Blessings of 2004


-Men’s Retreat, sponsored by Outfitters for Adventure (headed-up by Neil)
-Morris: All American City 2004 Finalist
-Morris Area High School Basketball Team, goes to state!
-Missing UMM Student (not found yet as the year comes to an end
-Morris National Guard, getting deployed to the Middle East


-Luis Palau: Twin Cities Festival 2004
-3-Peat Division Titles in a row for the Minnesota Twins Baseball Team!


-Head to Head Presidential Elections of 2004
-1..2..3 Punch Hurricanes in Florida


-"The Passion" by Mel Gibson, impacts Hollywood and the World!
-Philippines: Visit by my Mom, “I Agree with Ami” schooling, and typhoons "Maligayang Pasko" (Merry Christmas in Filipino)
-Summer Olympics in Athens
-Asian Tsunami Post-Christmas Disaster 2004*just added this after New Year 2005!

Top 10 Stories of 2004 from CNN:
1. Election 2004
2. War in Iraq
3. Terrorism
4. (tie) 9/11 Commission
4. (tie) Hurricane season
6. Yasser Arafat dies
7. Morality split
8. Ronald Reagan dies
9. Sudanese crisis
10. Red Sox win World Series

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