Thursday, November 22, 2012

Funny Thanksgiving

On this Thanksgiving Day, especially after Hurricane Sandy, there is a need to give thanks for the simple things in life. For family and friends. For our health and safety. For everything else that God provides.

For those things that make us smile. And laugh out loud.

The irrepressible Maxine who says what she thinks. When I get to be her age, I will definitely relish doing exactly that, lol.

This is the real Norman Rockwell drawing-

And before we place the blame on the tryptophan for the "turkey coma", the culprit is really the serotonin effect of all the protein-fat combination or just the gluttonous excuse of the holiday. Or it could just be the alcohol. These poor turkeys don't have a chance.

This is the Brits' version of their Christmas turkey-

And this is why I don't even try to cook turkey. Hello Boston Market.

Addendum: Nov. 26, 2013

For the first time since 1888, the two holidays of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah will converge. This marks the first joint celebration of the two holidays named THANKSGIVUKKAH. Enjoy the holiday with family and friends.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

INC Giving for Hurricane Sandy Victims

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. (Proverbs 3:27)

Nov. 10, 2012- FAR ROCKAWAY, NEW YORK- -

Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc to New York and New Jersey last October 29. In its aftermath, a trail of staggering destruction of lives and properties brought the two states to a grinding halt.

Two weeks later, the recovery efforts were still on-going.

While others had quickly recovered, there were still parts in Long Island, Queens, Staten Island, and New Jersey still without electric power. No heat, no light, no homes; their lives completely unraveled by nature.

Today, November 10, our church, the Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ) conducted relief efforts in Far Rockaway in Queens. It is the easternmost section of the Rockaway peninsula and had gotten its name from the Native American Munsee language which means “place of sands”.

As with any disaster, there was a pervading atmosphere of gloom and devastation in the Rockaway area. Ruined cars were abandoned on the streets. Litters of debris were piled up in front of damaged houses. The street lights were still unlit. The boardwalk was swept away by the floods and the storm surge brought the coastal homes out to sea.

I got lost on my way to the distribution center in the park and found myself getting a first-hand look of what a disaster leaves behind. Driving through the shell of what once was a vibrant neighborhood, I felt a lump in my throat. So sad to see damaged possessions on the front yards. On the sidewalks was a lifetime of treasured mementoes. Souvenirs of family times, memories reduced to water-soaked photo albums and water-logged furniture.

A burly man came out of one of the houses carrying a box of soiled clothes. I don’t know if it was his home, but he suddenly sat on the sidewalk and just burst into heart-wrenching sobs. He did not see me parked across the street as I tried to fire up my GPS. I wanted desperately to comfort him, but I did not want to intrude on his private moment so I could only listen silently as he tried to compose himself.

But there was also a sense of hope and renewal. FEMA, NYPD, and other emergency personnel went about their tasks in helping the survivors rebuild their homes. And along the way, there were multitudes of make-shift distribution centers for relief goods and clothing, even some food courts in corner stands meant to serve both survivors and volunteers. Random acts of kindness everywhere.

Clean-up helpers tried to change the landscape of ruined homes and properties. Friends, family members and volunteers were sweeping the sand that the water had left behind. In every corner I passed, there was a bunch of people, young and old, cleaning up the streets; most of them not even part of an organized group but just a group of people from out of town armed with mops and brooms. Strangers helping during a time of need.

The spirit of volunteerism is alive and well in New York City. The Church of Christ’s (Iglesia ni Cristo) relief distribution through the Felix Y. Manalo Foundation was an absolute success. It was a massive show of solidarity to a call to help.

The spirit of brotherhood among the church members was evident as everybody pitched in to usher our guests to the tables where the ministers and other brethren distributed the recovery tote bags.

Earlier, some of the members had knocked on doors around the area to notify the neighborhood of the donations. In the end, we even received additional boxes of relief donations from strangers.

It was a reality check for some of the church members to see suffering up close and personal. Far Rockaway was our Katrina. Disasters exposed our vulnerabilities and the poor and the underserved population suffered the most.

I have seen these sufferings in my ER. Our hospital in Brooklyn opened our doors to stranded victims from the calamity who were evacuated from the nursing homes and other hospitals brought down by power outage and flooding. We also received an influx of patients displaced from their homes; even patients who were dependent on medical equipment to survive. I was now in the very area from whence they came.

The victims of Hurricane Sandy still have a long road ahead of them, but they seem to appreciate any little help they got. Their faces lit up as they received the proffered tote bags from the ministers. Perhaps the gifts were just little tokens, but our efforts served its purpose: to show the community that we cared.

In the face of the challenges of their lives forever changed, the survivors cling to the hope that things will be better soon. Their resilience will be put to a test in the coming months.

I coaxed a smile from a three-year old girl who clung tightly to a stuffed toy that we retrieved from one of the boxes. Her older brother watched her while their mother stood patiently in line for diapers. That image is both heart-breaking and heart-warming at the same time.

November 22, 2012- TIMES SQUARE, NEW YORK CITY-

Photo by Irene-Ayie Sanchez

What a wonderful testimony to God's loving mercy and powerful reach. At the crossroads of the road, in the middle of Times Square, the INC brethren descended to show their generosity, as well as to proclaim their faith.

In a sea of white, the red, white and green flags were raised in pride. This picture sent shivers down my spine. Glory be to God.

"The Philippines-based church's charitable arm, the Felix Y. Manalo Foundation, made a total donation of $150,000 to the New York City Police Foundation, the FDNY Foundation, Bellevue Hospital Center and Coney Island Hospital - all of which were adversely affected by the huge storm."