The List

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Taken from Activate Your Faith by Russ Johnston

Do this: make a list of what you would like to be doing or have accomplished in three months if resources of any kind were no problem. Write what has been on the back burner of your mind from a week to ten years. In fact, go ahead – write some of those right now:

  1. Become a discipler and enjoy pouring out to him/them
  2. Be fully committed to God and His plan for me after graduation
  3. God willing, that I would know God’s calling for me
  4. Regularly keep in touch with overseas missionaries and V-SET students
  5. Bring at least one person to Christ
  6. Daily quiet times and consistent prayer (30 minutes in the morning, 15 minutes in the evening)
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The Rich Fool

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Luke 12:13-21

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’  And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

Fall Quarter 2011 Reflection: Miscellaneous

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UPE

This quarter I was invited to join the CS honors society at UCLA, Upsilon Pi Epsilon. I joined HKN last quarter and it’s a pretty similar process. Just go to a couple of events that they host and attend the induction. Unlike HKN, the induction process for UPE is a lot less social. At HKN we were put into houses and the house with the most points would get prizes at the end and it promoted a spirit of camaraderie. However, at UPE, you basically just show up to events, sign in, and leave. The events were interesting (Yahoo!, Facebook, Twitter) and the workshops were helpful.

We had our induction dinner at Yamato and that’s where I was able to meet and talk with the fellow candidates and current UPE officers. I know a few of them from classes so it was cool catching up with them and meeting new people. Professor Smallberg and Reinman were there too. They shared some stories of stupid things their students have done. But in general, CS table talk is really interesting…

Robotics

Early in the quarter, Tim asked me if I wanted to join the robotics club. I decided to check it out since I had some free time in my schedule and wanted some more hands on experience with electronics. Seriously, UCLA doesn’t give you much hands on experience. In the labs, you build really simple circuits, perform some trivial measurements, and spend hours writing up a report. But in robotics, I was able to mess around with the Arduino, go through some of the online tutorials, and program it to do some interesting things. We were working with circuits that were a lot more complex than what is in the curriculum.

However, the club is very disorganized and poorly run in my opinion. A lot of the people in the club are new to robotics (like myself) and really have no understanding of the fundamentals. So when we were split up into our different projects, we basically have to teach ourselves how to do everything by reading online tutorials. A lot of the people got really frustrated because we were all kind of expecting that one of the experienced people would help us out a lot more than they did.

I’m in the RoboMagellan project with Tim and three or four other people. One of the experienced people in the group, Garrett, really seems to LOVE robotics. It’s kind of crazy because apparently he didn’t show up to his final exam for one of his classes last quarter, but he seems like such a genius in robotics club. So he’s been leading the project, coming into the lab a lot, and doing the majority of the work. Fall quarter we focused on going through a lot of tutorials and getting familiar with the microcontroller and operating system the robot will use. Winter quarter is when we’ll actually be putting the robot together and preparing it for the competition in the Spring. I don’t know how active I’ll be in the club in the Winter. I had to stop going to the Monday meetings in the Fall because they conflicted with IBS.

Interviews

As a senior, I started to look ahead to what I would do after graduation. As of right now, I feel that God is calling me into the working world. I would like to find work around the LA area and help out with the ministry but we’ll see how that goes. Anyways, this is the first year I went to the career fairs with the intention of actually talking with the recruiters and not just grabbing free swag. Tim kept encouraging me a lot, telling me to get practice by approaching companies I wasn’t even interested in. At first it was kind of weird approaching these recruiters and having mini-interviews, but once I’m in the groove, it’s not too bad.

I went to both career fairs during fall quarter and was invited to some phone interviews by Laserfiche, Epic, Lattice, OxygenCloud, and Oblong. I made some mistakes, but it’s all part of the learning process. I passed the phone screens for Laserfiche and Epic but decided to not pursue employment at Epic anymore since they were all the way in Wisconsin. I wasn’t willing to move 😛 OxygenCloud never called me either 😦

During the winter break I had an onsite interview with Laserfiche. The interview was pretty nerve-racking and the engineers I met with were pretty reserved and critical so it was kind of intimidating. But I tried my best to answer the questions they threw at me. When I walked out of the interview, I wish I could have done better but all I can do is wait and hope. I’m still waiting to hear back from them.

During the break I also had a phone interview with Qualcomm. I passed the screen and they have invited me down for an onsite interview in San Diego. We are still figuring out dates for the interview.

Overall, a good learning experience so far. This process has taught me not to dwell on my failures or rejections but to keep moving forward. I plan to continue to go to career fairs in the winter and check out more companies. But I want to remember to pray and seek for God’s plan for my life. He may end up calling me away from the workplace, and I have to be open to that. I don’t want to become so focused on looking for a job, while shutting God out of the picture.

Fall Quarter 2011 Reflection: Fall Conference

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Out of all the fall conferences I’ve been to, this one touched me the most. Coming into it, I felt pretty overwhelmed and burnt out but by the end of it I came out feeling at peace. The most memorable part of the conference for me was the small group time. Peter, David, and Nate were all in my small group and we were sharing about what was going on in our lives. It was weird because our small group seemed pretty calm and mellow. Even David, who is usually very upbeat and lively, seemed to be a lot more calm and humble. It turns out that Peter, David, and I were going through similar issues. Mainly, we were all tired and burnt out.

I hadn’t met Nate before, but he was a blessing to have in the small group. He wasn’t a Christian, but when it was his turn to share, he mentioned that he was enjoying the praise time at conference a lot. He said that he felt so much power while praising God! It was a very encouraging touch to an otherwise depressing small group 😛 We then got around to answering some of his questions about God and Christianity and I then proceeded to share the bridge illustration with him. It was very beneficial as it helped answer some of his questions and it was a blessing for me to share with him. Even though he didn’t accept after my sharing, I knew it was just a matter of time before he would invite God into his heart. Nate also mentioned that he had recently had a conflict with a friend and I could tell that he was feeling guilty. I assured him that God had already payed for his sins and that he is forgiven. Since there was a session of prayer later in the day, I encouraged him to spend that time to ask God to reveal Himself and to repent and ask God for His forgiveness. By the end of the day, Nate had invited God into his heart and shared in front of the congregation that after repenting during the prayer time, he received a text from his friend he had an argument with who forgave and apologized to him.

It was also cool that the UCLA campus skit was such a blessing to the audience, especially since it was frustrating (for me at least) during rehearsal.

Fall Quarter 2011 Reflection: Serving

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Fall quarter 2011 was the first quarter serving full-time with the Bruin ICA servant’s team. I had previously spent most of the time serving on the ULC council and helping out whenever I could with ICA. Serving with ICA has been totally different than serving at ULC and I believe it can be summed up with a passage in Acts 6:1-6

Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.

At ULC, the council’s duty was to manage the church, which is exactly what a council should be doing. Serving at ICA has been a very different experience. Instead of “serving tables”, I’ve been put in a role where I am able to preach the word of God. Now I’m not saying that one position is better than another; both are necessary to help maintain the body. I’m just saying that being a disciple maker is very different than anything I’ve ever done before. Thankfully, V-SET helped a lot!

This year I’ve been thankful to be leading an investigative bible study with Mark at Dykstra and De Neve. The first couple of weeks we spent most of the nights in the dorms visiting contacts from the enormous activities fair and asking people if they are interested in bible study. It’s funny because I don’t think any of the people in our bible study right now came from the activities fair, but just through knocking on doors throughout the dorms. Thankfully, God allowed us to meet people that we could serve and reach out to. I still remember the first day we went dorming on Dykstra 10 where we first met Elliser and Xiao. Throughout the rest of the week we continued to go down the building where we met Andrew. We would occasionally go into the De Neve buildings and dorm. We even had a pretty good game night at Evergreen but didn’t do a good job following up afterwards. Thankfully we met Andy on that floor, even though he didn’t come to the game night, and he eventually invited his friend Philip to bible study. I see Mark and I as very lucky being assigned Dykstra since that’s where a lot of the UCLA freshmen are and the majority of them are very friendly and sociable.

Once classes started picking up and bible studies started, we stopped dorming but we had only hit the top half of Dykstra and half of the De Neve buildings. Mark and I wanted to some more recruiting but we simply did not have enough time. Once our bible studies settled down, we had five consistent attendees: Andrew, Andy, Josh, Phillip, Xiao. Elliser came to bible studies a few times but goes to GOC small group during that time. Thankfully he has been very consistent coming out to our ICA rallies. We have a very unique set of guys in our small group and it’s a good challenge serving them in their own different ways. Thanks to Josh and his extra swipes, we have been able to start weekly dorm dinners with our small group and later expand to a larger ICA dorm dinner near the end of the quarter. These dorm dinners have been very beneficial because it gives us a lot of time to hang out with the guys and to get to know them better. It helped me to see them more as friends, not just contacts.

The bible studies themselves went alright. There were a couple of times where Mark and I didn’t really prepare so it turned out unorganized, but we quickly learned our lesson. There were some awkward silences when everyone was tired and not really in the mood to share, but overall I’m thankful to how much the Word of God is speaking to them. All of them have really good things to share and their questions and insights are very thought provoking. We’ve gotten through 6 of the 7 miracles of John during fall quarter so I plan on finishing the 7th miracle early in the winter. I have no idea what we’ll be doing afterwards though. We do plan to meet up with the guys one on one starting next quarter and continue to bring them up in the faith.

Fall Quarter 2011 Reflection: Academics

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Ideally, I wanted to write up a reflection earlier into break while fall quarter is still fresh in my mind but this will have to do. I plan to break up this reflection into multiple sections just for my sake. I can’t write out an entire reflection in one sitting.

I’ll start out with academics. This quarter I took four classes (17 units) – Math 132, Philos 6, CS 118, and ENG 183EW. Since I was spending a lot of time serving with ICA, I thought my grades would probably take a hit – but the exact opposite happened. After getting all my final grades back, this turned out to be one of my best quarters academically. I even made the dean’s honor list! I seemed to be much more at peace with regards to my grades. I remember on V-SET during debriefing, Conrad gave a message where he encouraged everyone to hold out their hand and make a fist, which symbolized something that we as sinful human beings were holding onto. He then asked us to take some time to pray and release whatever we were holding onto to God. For me, I was holding onto my future and that encompasses my academic performance. This quarter felt different. It was still a lot of work, late nights, and stress but I felt a lot more at peace. Before, I would often have trouble sleeping the night before an exam or if I was stressed out with a project. This fall quarter, though, I only remember one night where my mind was racing and I couldn’t fall asleep. I just tried to do my best and entrust the rest to God and it took a lot of pressure off of myself.

Math 132 – This was a complex analysis class and was my first upper-div math class. My math was very rusty; the last math class I took was sophomore year so I had to spend a lot of time at the beginning of the quarter to get back into performing differentiation and integration. The homework was pretty complicated at times but luckily I found a solution manual online so whenever I got stuck I would take a look at that. It definitely helped a lot because nothing irritates me more than being stuck on a problem. It seemed I never understood the material until I would study for exams. Thankfully, the midterm was pretty straightforward and I ended up doing pretty well on it (~15% above average). The final, though, was a lot harder, which I did not expect at all. After I took this exam I had no idea how I did but apparently I did okay with respect to the average. I still don’t know my final exam score since my professor doesn’t use MyUCLA but I’m happy with my final grade.

Philos 6 – This class was honestly a joke. The professor was horrible and lecture was absolutely useless. I only took this class for an easy A. All we had to do in this class was write three 2000 word essays. There were no exams at all. During the first half of the class I would skip about half of the lectures but as the quarter went on, I tried to attend all the lectures since the readings got more difficult. I regret wasting my time. The essays each took me about a full day to write but I was able to do pretty well on them and pull out an A for the class. Thankfully, Elliser was in the class so we would often joke about how ridiculous this class was.

CS 118 – It was probably one of the easier CS classes, but still required a lot of work. This class just had a bunch of material, even though the material wasn’t difficult itself. Just a lot of stuff to memorize and understand. We had weekly homework assignments with problems from the book as well as two projects so we always seemed to have a constant stream of work for this class. We were able to do the projects in pairs so Eric W. and I worked together. The first project wasn’t too difficult but we did have to argue with the TA for more points. Thankfully, he made mistakes with the grading so we were bumped up from a 75 to 95. The second project was a lot more stressful. We had five weeks to do it so Eric and I got together during Thanksgiving break to work on it a little. But 80% of the work was done the last two days before it was due. Since Eric was busy with work and other classes, I had to code most of the project. It was quite stressful for me. I hate doing projects last minute. I like to make sure my project is finished a couple days before it is due so I can test it and make sure everything is working. Thankfully the project wasn’t anything too complicated and I was able to finish writing the code the night before it was due. We did run into some problems when we tested it and we didn’t fix all the problems until three minutes before our demo time. So thankful that everything fell together at the end. I did below average on the homework assignments. I made some careless mistakes but honestly didn’t care too much about it. The exams weren’t too complicated and I did pretty well on the final exam.

ENG 183EW (Ethics) – This was probably one of the weirdest classes I’ve taken. The discussion has nothing to do with the class lectures, which have nothing to do with the book. It was like three different classes combined into one. Discussion was more focused on writing, lecture material was on the history of technology, and the book was about engineering ethics. The class turned out to be a lot of work with a lot of writing. I’m a slow writer so I spent a lot of time on the two big essays we had to do. We also had a big group project where we had to write up a 50 page ethics report of a current engineering issue. Our group chose social networking and we all happened to be CS or EECE majors. It was a pretty painful experience during finals week as we had to combine all of our individual sections into one report and not everyone had their section done. It also turned out we formatted our paper incorrectly and didn’t have much of a thesis statement or solution, but we basically said “screw it”. I also had to walk down to FedEx in Westwood the next day to get the report spiral bounded and turn it in. We also had to give a presentation for our topic and we kind of BSed that as well. We were the only group that didn’t dress up for the presentation. Other groups wore collared shirts and ties while I presented in a hoodie, jeans, and flip flops. The class also had a midterm and final exam, which consisted of a lot of writing and BSing. In summary, this class consisted of lots of BS. I’m glad this class is finally over. It was interesting but also a lot of busy work. Judging from the final grade I got, I doubt the professor read our 50 page report – probably just the executive summary.

Final exam week was especially tough this quarter. Not only did I have three final exams but also an ethics report, CS project, and a philosophy paper. It seemed like there was so much to do and not enough time to do it. Before finals week I would always wonder what God would have in store for me. During this stressful time, God allowed me to put my head down and finish all I had to do without too much complaining or self-pity.