Sometimes You Have to Knife Your Way Out

Last year was a year of death. This year was a year of birth. Healthiest financial year since 2005. I took on zero new debt and I paid some of my debts off. 2008, to sum it up, started out nasty and frustrating. It’s ending sweet and fairly collective, all things considered. I mean I have a long way to go, and tough times ahead, very tough times, but I’m smiling. I’ve signed on 30 new clients this year. If their businesses succeed then I’ll get a share of that.

I grew more in my faith this year than any other year I can remember. Sundays at church, Mondays at church, Tuesdays doing homeless outreach, Wednesdays at small groups (or the movies), Thursdays doing outreach, Fridays at the movies. And of course Saturday is laundry day.

Let’s not forget many many outreach nights where we fed the homeless, chatted with young and elderly people and won over people for Jesus in downtown Toronto. We reached over 6,000 people with the gospel this year on a very personal one on one level. Think about that number for a moment. We talked to 6,000 people about Jesus. Gave out 2,000 meals. Remember that giant thanksgiving day outreach for the community? 650 meals at least, many children. Many smiles.

Christmas evening David, Ryan and Kendra came with me to downtown Toronto and we brought Christmas presents to a teen homeless shelter.

2008 was a year of new things for me. New horizons and new visions and sharp correction.

I lost 3” off my waist! I read lots and lots of books. Is there a way to get paid for reading books? I remember running like mad to catch the bus in blizzards and rainstorms. Many of them would be late or out of service or completely packed. I remember being frustrated and biting down on my teeth. I remember amazing times of peace and tranquillity, praying silently when I had no words. I remember my tears. My many many tears.

A thought about myself. I know people who have grown up in the faith. With parents, grandparents, extended family, family gatherings, Christmas’s, a home, money, wisdom that comes from knowing Jesus, a church, faithful friends. They didn’t have the troubles that come from not knowing Jesus. They have what I call the perfect life. No I don’t mean they don’t have troubles. I mean they just have so much more than everyone else right from the start while people like me have to spend the first half of our lives trying to catch up.

I often wonder about those people, so well adjusted and with a smile on their face. I didn’t really have any of those things but I sure do want it for my children. If my kids can’t have it then at least many thousands of other kids will through the missions work I’ve been doing since 1997.

Mr. Chong has a good home now. He came out to visit us on December 25th 2008, our Christmas evening outreach. He knew just where to find us as and opened up his winter parka to show me my (I mean his) fall jacket. He gave me a pat on the shoulder and a big smile. He’s still in my prayers and close to my heart. I have more than 20 positive updates like this from this year alone. Hundreds more positive updates like this since 1997.

Back in grade 4 or 5 my teacher Mr. Wood got frustrated with me, my performance was poor. I was receiving hard daily beatings at home while still earning money to support my family. 5 days a week was school plus work (delivering papers, babysitting, door to door candy sales etc) then the weekends was work work work. On weekends my parents would have the wildest and noisiest parties on the block, making it hard to sleep, and let’s not forget the weekly police visits. Because of this my reading was way behind, not to mention spelling, writing, etc, etc.

I guess the school didn’t know what to do with me so they placed me into the special needs class. I’m not talking about ESL (English as a second language) because I did that when I came to Canada and finished in grade 3. Even though my first and only language was English. I’m talking about the actual special needs class for people with severe mental or physical disabilities. It was very uncomfortable for me. There was a large black girl who wore a helmet and would bang her head against the concrete block wall all day. The other classes in the school could clearly hear the banging. Another boy would be completely silent and then break out in violent fits. That kid would get me into all kinds of trouble, I would be by myself in a corner of the room and he would walk over to me and start screaming or making noise, implicating me in his crazy behaviour. Other children were sweet and friendly. Some were in wheelchairs, others I think should have been in institutions for the violently insane. Maybe I myself should have been in one of those institutions. After a while of this class I decided it was time to gather up my strength and get the hell out of there for good, my main fear being that the black girl with the helmet would one day go crazy and kill us all. She was enormous and very frightening. I begged and begged for them to put me back in the normal class with my friends, I promised to work harder than ever but my pleas fell on deaf ears.

I felt absolutely defeated while walking home every day. To this day I don’t think my parents know or care that this ever happened.

One day during class I was playing at the water bin. It was a white plastic bin, shaped like a deep pool table, child sized. It was filled with water and different objects. I called over the boy who was always getting me in trouble, and waited till the class was fairly quiet. I pinched his arm so hard I thought flesh would come off it. He screamed so loud and started going so crazy that the teacher couldn’t contain him. She had to call emergency help from our principal, who heard him scream from downstairs. He grabbed him kicking and screaming and took him out of the class (the entire class went wild, think of a zoo gone wild or a prison riot). When the teachers talked about it they knew very well that I planned my escape from the class and agreed that I was smart enough to be in the regular school program.

So that was it for me. They kicked me out of the special needs class and I was placed back into normal classes. I learned a lesson: Sometimes you have to nice your way out of a situation, and sometimes you have to knife your way out of a situation.

That day I walked home, smiling the entire way.


Yesterday was an 18 hour work day. Very tiring. I woke up and did a tremendous amount of work. I took a 45 minute nap, woke up to do more work and I almost thought I should cancel on the homeless outreach because I wasn’t feeling so good. But at the last minute I decided to just go because it is my commitment to God. I got there at 830pm and I have to stress the fact that I was super tired. It was a good night of reaching out to the downtown Toronto homeless community and sharing my faith with people, some of which are giving their life to Jesus.

On the way home I stopped off at Walmart to get a new electric kettle and old spice deodorant. Right in front of me in the line was Carla, my old pal from high school. I haven’t seen her in more than 10 years. She looks like she did in the 90’s. She is the one responsible for bringing me to church for the first time. She invited me over 50 times over the course of a year. I said no 51 times over the phone. On the 52 time she didn’t bother calling me, she came over to my house and she banged on my door demanding that I go to church with her. I did. And I gave my life to Christ that same night.

My Old Friend Gabriel

We had about 300+ people for service and I know some of them made decisions to serve God in a greater way. We usually have about 75 but this was a special event. Saturday and Sunday I did lots and lots and lots of chores. Yesterday I cleaned up the car, made it shiny and new looking, it took hours to clean the interior but I also fixed up some broken items and replaced things that needed to be. It really looks good on the inside now.

Gabriel and I had a chance to talk yesterday after about 8 years. LOL. He just walked right up to me. I met Gabriel not long after I gave my life to Christ and we went camping together with our church group back in like 1999 or something in Bancroft. We had to drag him kicking and screaming but he had a good time, I still have photos of the trip. He moved back to Newfoundland and spent many months in the hospital because he had tumours growing on his spine. It’s so odd to know people and then have them disappear for years only to see them again and then hear their extraordinary stories of survival and faith. Because there were so many people I couldn’t talk to him for very long and I’m afraid I didn’t get his contact information properly so I hope to see him again soon.

Nice To Get A Smile In Here And There

Gramma told me that she used to drive a car a long time ago, like in the 50’s. Yes, my gramma used to drive a car. And she told me of such adventures as the time she drove the car (standard transmission) up a hill and it was stuck sideways and people had to push it back on the ground, and the time she drove it into a ditch. She says it in such a carefree way I’ve never heard her talk before, and when she talked about it she sounded as if she was 17 years old again, with hopes and dreams and possible romances to look forward to. I guess that’s where heaven comes in, God’s restoration of every good thing that He first created for us to enjoy, the things that on earth are fleeting – are eternal in heaven.

The Circumcision of Asif Zamir

I remember it vividly. I was 4 years old. It was Guyana, South America. I was living at my grandmothers house which was built in the 50’s for $500 USD. The house sat upon tall stilts because the rainy season would bring floods that would wash away houses and farms. Several of our neighbors houses were washed away and were simply piles of sticks they lived in. You could walk clearly under the house, which was dirt floors. Red ants would crawl up your legs and bite you hard, it would hurt. I like to ride my tricycle which was from the city dump. My uncle made 2 wooden rear wheels for it because we couldn’t find the wheels when we took the trike. We had lot of chickens and a goat. Once in a while the neighbors cows would break into our property and scare me, mooing loudly. Wild South American foxes and dogs would get in our property and kill our animals. More than one were killed with an ax.

One day I was minding my own business playing, and I was invited inside and asked to lay on the bare floor, which I did with a giggle at first. Then 2 cute ladies held me down, each one holding both an arm and a leg. The doctor (I would hope he was a doctor) removed my pants and underwear and grabbed hold of my wiener. That’s when I started to panic. I mean I really started to panic. I tried my damn hardest to get free and run away but they had a good grip on me. I even threatened to beat the women up. I tried making up an excuse that I needed to go relieve myself. For the life of me I couldn’t figure out what this guy was trying to do to me. Living in Guyana, in our town, part jungle, part farmland, you had to become street smart fast. People would be killed in the street and bad things would happen all the time. Kids would be killed or go missing walking to school in the morning.

You could pay a hit-man $200 USD to kill someone, far cheaper than the rates in Canada. I saw a lot in Guyana. But I had never seen anything like this. The doctor (I really hope he was a doctor) circumcised me. I felt the initial cut and screamed probably as loud as I ever remember screaming.

No pain medicine, no anesthesia. Not even a comfortable bed to lay on. When he was done I was to tired to fight. I went to sleep or fainted or something. When I came to, I got up and walked around in severe pain. What the hell just happened? I was minding my own business, living my life, doing what I do and all of a sudden I’m in this brand new situation.

Fast forward to today and I don’t remember the circumcision as a negative event, but a positive one. The doctor (I no longer care if he was a doctor) did a really, really great job. I remember the pain, and the suffering and lack of hope and it helped to mold me into a man today. This is exactly how I feel today. I wake up, have my bible time, prayer time, worship time, I go to work, run my errands, go to church, come home and eat dinner, do my prayers and go to sleep. I’ve acted with good will and in good faith towards everyone and yet all of a sudden, I’m in this brand new situation. Everything that can collapse has collapsed in 2007. Everything that can go wrong has gone wrong for me in 2007.

This year I worked everyday. I pushed myself harder than ever. I put in at least 1,000 hours of useful volunteer work. I reached hundreds and maybe thousands of precious souls for Jesus and participated in a small handful of quality missions projects that saved lives. I did the best I could, but it wasn’t enough. Church ministry went well, but work was a nightmare.

If I told you every bizarre event that happened to me in previous years, you might believe me because there were logical explanations for each situation.

But this year there are no logical explanations. Everything that can go wrong in life has gone wrong. Loss of money, friends, even self respect. In December of 2005 I had less than $400,000 in debt and a decent income. Today as I write this I’m in $3,000,000 of debt and my income is almost $0. None of my clients can pay me, there is talk all over about a deep recession worldwide. I’m suffering from a slight depression that I’m sure will catch up to me and kick my ass.

And yet in a way, I’m moving forward as planned.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. – Exodus 14:15

Jesus Sets Slaves Free

Last night grandma told me that she used to work for wealthy families in Guyana, cleaning their homes and taking care of their children. I remember being a child and visiting her at these homes, seeing her scrubbing clothes against a wash board and smiling at me. Any way when she saved up enough to come to Canada, one of the wealthy folks heard about it and responded “SHE is going to Canada?” and my grandmother was very hurt over it, it was discouraging to her. It was as if they believed that the poor should always stay poor and the rich should always stay rich. Actually that’s what they believed because it was part of their religion.

More than 25 years later grandma saw her at the mosque here in Canada. When she saw the lady, she approached her and gave her a hug and a kiss. Grandma went on to tell me about the many families from Guyana that she knew who were born wealthy because their parents left them an inheritance, and how sad she feels that our family, our entire bloodline has had no inheritances at all. Maybe because of me, our inheritance can be Jesus.

Extra Extra! Giant Black Guy Scared of Malton

I was walking to the mall last night over that dangerous bridge that takes you to Food Basics and a huge black guy was on the phone talking to his girlfriend and saying “baby you know I gotta be careful, this is Malton”. My goodness, if he has to be scared of Malton, what about the rest of us?

Seriously though you should not walk around after dark, nowhere is safe in this town after dark. On the bright side I fit right in here and I’m familiar with everything. I know where guns are sold, even grenades. Suppressors are special order. Drugs, protection services, special services like forged paperwork. I’m familiar with Malton. I’ve had some interesting conversations with familiar faces. 10 years ago people would offer me goods and services and instead I’d invite them to church, and some would tell me to get lost and some would say yes. I think there was one night when I saw more than 30 firearms handed over to police at a youth service at church. This generation is different though. Invite one of them to church and they’ll point a firearm at your face and threaten you. It’s not as easy these days.

On a brighter note, there’s still something beautiful about Malton. I grew up here from around the age of 7 or 8 to my 20’s. I like walking down Etude Drive during Autumn, from one end to another. It’s beautiful and peaceful for the most part.

The 90’s Were So Much Better To Me

One of my good friends from the 90’s, Rachel is married, her 2 children are doing well, she’s in Georgia for now but considering moving to Alaska. Jenn is doing well. We chatted for a bit and that was a fun walk down memory lane.

After talking to Rachel, I can’t help but feel hurt that the 90’s was so much better for me than this decade.

Michael (not the archangel, the other one)

In 1988 I was in Brandon Gate public school. Mr. Wood’s class. There was a black boy one grade ahead of me, in the same classroom (We used to share “pod’s” with another grade for some reason) his name was Michael. He was a rough and awful person at the time. He would get into fights and arguments and trouble all the time. One time he was fighting and he kicked a female teacher very hard in the neck. He was a huge dark skinned boy, bigger than the biggest bullies at our school. At least that’s how I remember it. Mrs. Leahy is the name of the teacher that got kicked. I thought he was such a loser and I always remembered him that way. Until now.

Fast forward to 2005, when I would regularly pray for people I went to school with, even though I don’t remember them all by name, I remember certain events or little things here and there. I was flipping through the channels and I saw Michael, of all people, on tv, giving his testimony about how Jesus changed his life. I was floored. I mean honestly I had to sit down. I was literally praying for the guy, and now here I was watching him on tv.

Just a few months later in 2005 I met him in Longo’s while doing grocery shopping. I re-introduced myself, of course he didn’t remember me from such a long time ago. I praised God for being so amazing. He takes the people who we think will never be different and he changes them. I shook Michael’s hand and went about my day. Who would think that I would ever shake his hand? He was an animal the last I remembered him. He beat up my friend Gidget’s brother Charlie. I met Gidget in 1986 while jogging. She was a champion jogger at the time.

Fast forward to last night, August of 2007, I was flipping through the channels here, the reception is very poor but sometimes but I can wiggle back of the tv and sometimes I get lucky.

On CBC the host was interviewing an ‘educator’ who was proclaiming that there is no God. I change channels and there is Michael, yes Michael on a major game show. He won over $150,000 and was giving half to his new ministry, which will help troubled youth stay off the streets via sports programs.

Jesus is amazing! Oh yeah, I forgot – I met Gidget in Woodbine center in 1997. She gave her life to Jesus to. And I’ve started going through my old yearbooks which are safe in storage, turns out a number of my old friends who were Atheists, Muslims, Hindus, etc are turning their lives over to Jesus and their lives are being transformed.

Yorkview Public School in Willowdale Ontario

I couldn’t sleep. I drove to Yorkview Public School at like 5am, eating breakfast and Mcdonald’s. The drive there was long, wow I didn’t realize how far it was.

I parked my car in the parking lot of the school for the very first time and walked around. I stood at the baseball field where I fought that gang of boys to defend a girl so long ago, checking the wood and metal for any remnants of my blood. The whole school and property looks so old and small. I remember how huge it used to feel. I wonder how my old buddies were doing. There was Randy who was like half black half white and an amazing sprinter, Matthias who was fresh from Hungary and a math super genius (they skipped him several grades in math). There was my grade 3 sweetheart Kaitlin Moore (who all the boys fought over), Teresa, another one of my girlfriends, a quiet blonde girl who spent all her time doing jump rope. While I was enjoying my walk around the property I received about 8 calls from angry creditors.

When I was like 6 I would go to a convenience store at Bathurst and Finch, buying candy and then re-selling it here on the grounds of Yorkview. That’s how I used to solve my money troubles. Ha ha. I had to do something. I was missing all the field trips and special events. Eventually I was paying for my own trips and supplies and signing fake signatures on my permission slips.

We used to have pizza days at school and my parents would just tell me to stay home those days, but the most embarrassing was in grade 5 at Brandongate Public School when Mr. Wood had the entire classroom do a traditional Medieval Dinner. We were to have our parents (lol) cook food and all bring a dish, and I remember everyone asking me what my parents would be cooking. I made up some nonsense and then skipped the day, later saying I was sick. I really felt a lot of pain in my heart though, not only did I get a hard beating for asking my parents to cook food for the dinner, but I really enjoy Medieval times and the entire teaching that Mr. Wood did. He knew I enjoyed it and he himself was disappointed in me for missing. That part hurt the most. He asked me if I would miss the Niagara Falls grade 5 graduation trip, which of course I wouldn’t. I forged my parents signature and paid for the damn thing myself using the money I earned selling gumball machines door to door and delivering the pennysaver newspaper. I had to fight my way through my early years and it looks like I’ll have to fight my way through my latter years also. And I don’t mind.

I love buffets

I woke up, had a small breakfast, showered and left around 10:30am. Mom, Freddy, sis and I drove to London Ontario and arrived around 12:30 only to find Eggbert was working till 2! How annoying. She told us to be there at 12. Well anyway we drove around a bit doing some sight seeing and hit a huge hail storm. I got it all on video camera.

We went to Mason’s around 2:20pm and sis worked on Eggbert’s hair until 5pm while we all chatted with her family. My hair takes 5 minutes to do, why a girls hair takes so long, I don’t know and I don’t care. We spent the time reminiscing.

Around 5pm we took some photos of Eggbert and then left. From 5-7 we drove home having some good conversations but I know some of us were getting headaches from all the driving.

We went home, I washed my face and then left to pickup Lauren and Jordyn. We brought them home to my mom’s place where we all ate a delicious lasagna dinner while Jordyn had fun running around. She was a bit fussy because it was way past her bed time. I remember when Jordyn was still learning to wiggle around on the ground, here she is walking and running and she knows a few words here and there.

We talked, took photos and video, played with Jordyn and played piano, sang songs. We tried to watch a movie (Derailed, 2005) however Jordyn was too fussy. So Mason and I took Lauren and Jordyn home. We spent some time at Lauren’s which was fun. I thought to myself – it’s been about 2 years since we’ve done this. We used to hang at her place all the time. As life goes on, these kinds of things happen less and less.

Mason and I left, picked up my sis and we went home, and slept. Mason slept over.

June 4:
Church, then lunch at a Chinese buffet. After some more good conversation mom and Freddy left for Lakeshore and Mason and I dropped sis at Joanne’s house. Mason and I drove home, where I showered and had to do a work phone call. Anyway, we started driving around, and we went downtown Toronto to do some sight seeing. Unfortunately everything was closed, and at the the last minute we decided to visit his new college campus. We had just enough time to drive back down Young Street, eat a sausage and then see Mason back on the bus towards London.

It took me a good hour to drive home as usual, but I got to listen to some fantastic songs on the car radio. Some jungle songs I haven’t heard in about 10 years. It brought back good memories.


I’m just struggling a lot more this year. Actually in 2005 and 2004 there wasn’t much struggle at all. It’s like I took a wrong turn somewhere.

My income is going lower and lower, clients just either don’t need a consultant or the clients I have are paying very late or not at all. Several of the cheques I’ve received have bounced already this year.

I haven’t compensated by reducing my missions giving yet but I’m afraid I’ll have to very soon. I’m helping some people with college which is costing a fortune but I don’t want to stop doing that at all. There are all sorts of expenses related to that. Cell phone bills, bus tickets, housing, miscellaneous school fees, books on top of books. In the back of my mind I know how ungrateful young people can be, one day they’ll forget me and everything I did, but I promised that if they work hard and sty out of trouble I’ll help them through college. My accountant says I should simply register my whole life as a non profit lol. Sometimes I think he’s serious.

My sister just upset me by asking why I never have money for myself, when I just gave her $800 for her rent a few minutes prior.

Last night my sis and I drove to Richmond Hill to visit a man we call Plummy. It’s not his real name, I don’t know why we call him that. I remember when I was about 6 years old, Plummy and my step-dad, around the same age were both working at an auto parts company. We all went to the company pick nick and Plummy picked me up to go do one of the games for prizes. I was very shy, because my parents taught me no social skills and destroyed any skills I did have with hard beatings. I bit Plummy really hard in protest. I mean really really hard. Looking back I really feel bad about it as he was just being nice.

Well anyway, yesterday we went there to see him, and he lives in a 4000+ square foot house. Way too much space for his family. And him and his wife were sitting beside each other looking young and happy, rubbing hands as if they were teens in love.

As I drove home with my sis we talked about what life would have been like if we had a stable family home. Just normal everyday life in stead of complete Hollywood movie-like insanity everyday. Everyday was chaos. Anyway, what’s done is done says my sis. Her words. I just can’t help but to wonder.


Here is some poetry and a short story by Eggbert. She’s 18 now, but she used to be a little child in my children church class when she was about 9 or younger. I figured I’d keep some of her poetry / stories and bug her about them when she’s old, married with children of her own. This August I’ll help her move into college, and remind her that she used to pull on my shirt while eating candy, asking if I can buy her Archie Comics for her birthday.

March 27, 2006

A bear,
With the great might
Of one who is stronger
Then all who may invade his home
Of trees.

The Gobble de Glook
Today I met a Gobble de Glook
Who seemed to me the perfect crook.
He carried with him a crooked rook,
Which, he showed me, was used to cook.

He claims to be cousins with the Mook,
Too weird to exist in all but a book.
Both the Glook and the Mook were friends
With the Jook,
Who had the most unusual hook.

These silly connections for granted I took,
For by now my brain was no better then gook.
But all of a sudden the fun little Glook
Took out a small, but hard covered book.

Inside it where pictures of the Glook, Mook,
And Jook, who had the most unusual hook.
And I couldn’t help but take a good look
To see for myself the connections of the
Gobble de Glook.

Little girls coloring
Splashes of color
Beautiful tapestries
Lovingly put together with great care
Each color chosen painstakingly

Little boys coloring
Splashes of color
Beautiful tapestries
Messily put together
No thought of care
Each color randomly picked up

Little children coloring
Splashes of color
Beautiful tapestries
Each picture put together differently
Each color adding to the innocence
Of their hard work

As I look back on all the passing years
My memories are what I long to live.
For only then will I forget my fears
And to the past, myself I truly give.

The memories of times spent with my friends
And times when I could get some time alone.
Some more moments are just around life’s bends
Yet, past moments are best that I have known.

The memories of times where I could smile
At the mischievous, troublesome me.
Though my parents still loved me all the while
But to behave was their unending plea.

Although my memories are in the past,
The time I spend with them will always last.

Short Story – Adequacy
The old man smiled gruffly at the children as they cut in front of him, chasing after their ball. “If only” he thought to himself as he reminisced his childhood long forgotten. But as always an immediate sorrow flooded his soul. He scratched at his thickly overgrown beard. His appearance greatly matched his scruffy beard with old clothes that looked like they hadn’t been washed in awhile, which they hadn’t. His top was not quite tucked in and had a dark stain on the front from some left over meal, and the pants were in desperate need of ironing, with dirty hems. He just hadn’t had time to do laundry, and to tell the truth, he didn’t really know how. His wife had always done the laundry. The thought of her brought with it fresh pain all to near the brink of despair. She had been gone for six months now, had passed away peacefully in her sleep, and yet the old man could not bring himself to feel joy anymore.

The old man quickly pushed all those thoughts aside, out of his mind and continued on with his journey. Just a few more blocks to go and he would be at the train station where he would pick up his grandson. His daughter and son in law had this really good idea that leaving their son with him might cheer him up a bit while they go away for a small trip. He was not amused. Although he greatly loved his grandson, he was reluctant to have to watch him for a few days. He didn’t feel adequate enough to be able to keep the boy happy.

His daughter and grandson were waiting for him when he arrived. She quickly walked up and gave him a hug, mumbling that she knew how hard it was, but having his grandson around would do him some good.

“You never know, it may cheer you up a bit!” she said as brightly as she could. She gave her son a hug and then started to move away.

”It’ll only be for a few days. Thanks again dad!” she said as if to fill the silence descending on them all like a stifling blanket. Even the noise from the train station didn’t seem to penetrate the tension. Grandfather and grandson watched her walk away until she was out of sight. Finally the boy turned and looked up at his grandfather, his eyes big and round with hesitation, for he didn’t know what to expect. The old man looked down at the boy noticing his big round eyes. “Yup, never going to be able to please this one”, he thought to himself.

“Well let’s go kid.” The old man said with as much gruffness as he could muster. They turned to walk away and the boy reached up and grasped his grandfather’s hand out of desperation. The old man was touched by the gesture and bit his lip to hold back the onslaught of tears.

Going back to his little suburban two bedroom apartment just didn’t feel right, so the old man decided to take a detour, and maybe spend a little bit of time getting to know his grandson. He had never actually known the boy, for his daughter had chosen to move away from home; too far to see every weekend, but close enough to see every once in a while. So the old man and his wife had only seen the boy on special occasions.

The young boy said not a word as they walked. This made the old man feel guilty at not being capable to entertain him. Suddenly a thought came to him.

“Let’s go this way” the old man pointed to a street just off to the side. He tried to not sound as gruff as he had before, after all, the boy seemed scared of him. He led the boy through a maze of streets until they came upon an antique shops road. The boy’s eyes grew round at the sight of all the wonderful things that had become forgotten by the modern world. The old man smiled to himself. He could still remember the first time his dad had brought him here. Ha had been no older then his grandson was now, and had been absolutely amazed at the wonderful sights. One particular shop stood out in his mind though. It had been one of the most thrilling shops that he had ever been to. That was where he was taking his grandson.

As the shop came into sight, a small gasp escaped the young boy’s lips. The grandfather paused in front of the shop long enough to thoroughly entice the boy before going in. Boats filled the room and the strong smell of mahogany floated on the air. The boats ranged in sizes, some big and majestic, others simple, but all were extraordinary. The model boats were spectacular to look at.

“How about we buy one of the model kits and then take it home to build it?” asked the grandfather. All shyness forgotten, the excited boy nearly shouted out his agreement and then quite happily helped his grandfather pick out the perfect model.

Once they were on their way home, the young boy grabbed his grandfather’s hand again, only this time the old man felt the love and awe emanating off him. Feeling more adequate, the old man began to tell the boy of his own experience first visiting the shop. The boy listened with the eager anticipation that only a young child could produce, and for the first time in months, the old man felt truly happy.

Jesus vs Satan. Jesus Wins

This month I gave really nice furniture to a nice family from Newfoundland who live in Mississauga. A beautiful canopy bed for a girl, also a girls dresser, wall paintings, etc. You should have seen the excitement on her cute little face as I assembled the bed, I had to put the mattress on before I was finished so she could jump on it as soon as possible. Afterward her father showed me some great photos of his home town in Newfoundland and we had a beer, which is a tradition in Newfoundland. Actually I think 10 beers is the tradition, but I left it at one.

Any way, to the main story. In life, everyone will take a beating one way or another. Some people will get a few more beatings than others. Some beatings are physical, some emotional, some metaphoric. Some will get all different kinds. I got all different kinds and I got many of them.

When we lived at Brandon Gate, when I was exactly 11 years old, I took one such beating. I’ve had many beatings in my life than ended with blood and cuts and scars, but I remember this one a lot. I’ll remember this one for a long time.

Now let me paint the picture for you, at that time in life I was working part time, bringing in good money. I remember quietly setting aside a few bucks each month to buy a radio controlled car from Radio Shack. My neighbor was selling his gas powered radio controlled car but I couldn’t afford it, but I purchased a decent battery powered model from Radio Shack. I had to hide it in my room, in a hidden compartment I setup behind my desk. My parents had a decent grasp on my income and realized something was wrong with my account balance. I showed them the car, received a grounding for buying something for myself and it was sent to Guyana to more needy children. I explained that where we were sending it, they didn’t even have the electricity to charge the battery. I was helping them pay their car payments but I couldn’t have a toy car for myself. Story of my life.

I went to school, got decent grades (okay maybe that’s a stretch) and stayed out of trouble for the most part (that’s definitely a stretch). I did my chores, went to the mosque as ordered. Okay okay, I used to take their cars out for drives here and there. Just up and down Goreway drive and Brandon Gate and Morning Star and Airport Road. Why not, after all I was helping make the monthly payments, and it sure was more fun than a radio controlled car.

One day, after a long day at school, my step dad asked me to prepare soup for my sister, he couldn’t do it because that would cut into his beer time. I prepared the soup the wrong way (I didn’t add the can of water to her chicken noodle soup). In my defense I had to hurry and finish my chores and then get to work at my job and then finish my homework. I lied about my age to get a paper delivery job with the Toronto Sun and I could earn more money by signing up new subscribers so I spent hours each day knocking on doors saying “hello would you like to subscribe to the Sunday Sun?” It was a terrible sales pitch with less than a 1% success rate but my route was close to 100 subscribers.

While I was on my knees scrubbing the floor with a brush, my beating started. Now in past years I would scream and cry and beg for mercy, peeing on myself and sometimes trying to run. But this time around I took my beating, no tears, no shame. I was being punched in the head mostly. Punch after punch, not one tear but my voice was shaky.

I was beaten so hard I couldn’t stand up. Have you ever been punched in the head so hard that your ears rang, and your vision was blurred for days after? If not, then you’ve never been punched. Part way through this life lesson, I looked up at him and said with great emotion “I’m growing everyday, one day I will kill you.” It sobered him up right away because he knew it was very true. He said something along the lines of “I know”.

After I finished my chores I went about my work knocking on doors. I didn’t sign on even one new customer.

Less than year later they divorced and we moved a few roads down. When I was 12 I went to the Malton library and took out a few books about Karate. I would practice as much as I could each day. By age 13 I would fulfill one of my life long dreams, I studied Kung Fu at a really good martial arts school. Before you could join, you had to be interviewed by the main instructor. He was extremely impressed with what I had already learned just from books alone.

I had to save like crazy to afford it, it wasn’t cheap. And I had to take the bus a long way and come home really late. It wasn’t easy with all my responsibilities. There was this time when mom left for like 4 or 5 weeks at least, without telling us anything. She just upped and left and we knew better than to report her missing or go look for her, we knew she’d be back eventually. I was working at pickwicks potatoes at the time. I trained really hard, but it was hard carrying the family and doing school as well. Nevertheless I trained hard and I learned fast.

Training was awesome. Sometimes we trained in the dark, blindfolded, one on one, 3 on one, one person holding you down while another beats you. We would train after a hard workout and simulate different scenarios. We would learn how to take a beating. At home I trained as hard as I could including striking wood boards to harden up my knuckles and shins. My hands and feet would bleed and blister up badly, but we had to learn how to handle pain, to embrace it, to love it, to use it to our advantage. I became obsessed with hand to hand combat. I read every book, every magazine. I watched as many martial arts movies ever, usually going to obscure video stores to get them.

My teacher would have to partner with me during sparring because nobody else wanted to – I would give hard beatings to people twice my size, and they could punch and kick me all they wanted, I wouldn’t even flinch. After a few years my Kung Fu teacher would use me as the final opponent during tests and I wouldn’t let any one pass. I remember this one man, he was in his 30’s, I was in my teens. I was in the 90lb range, he was pushing 190. He was taller than me (most people are) and he thought he would have an easy pass. Smiling at me, I smiled back. I let him hit me several times then I kicked him in the side of his head like it was nothing. I felt bad for him when he failed, I felt even worst when he cried in the change room. He was an adult man, crying the way I cried when I was a child.

My instructor put extra effort into me. One of his concerns was that I could easily go to the dark side and become a bad guy. He would even drive me home sometimes, giving me wisdom about self control. I returned the favor by helping him promote his school on the internet which was a baby at the time.

In high school I would hold sort of “fight clubs” here and there. At first at the school but then some teachers caught on and gave me a lecture about insurance, so we would do it at different houses. My shop teacher introduced me to his veteran buddy who fought in world war 2 (to my recollection). I still remember the introduction in my mind. It was during shop class and went something like this:

Teacher: “Asif, meet my friend, he fought in this war, he knows 100 ways to kill a man.”
Asif: “Sir, please teach me everything you know.”

I would hang out with them both as much as I could. One time I kicked the crap out of a guy in the school locker room, this other guy who was already a black belt saw and challenged me and I quickly beat him too. Another time I dropped off a friend at one of those cool-people parties and when I was about to leave this big guy challenged me. It took me maybe 30 seconds to put him on the ground. I made a name for myself. The girl who lived at the party house invited me to go jogging with her, and I would end up teaching self defense to some high school girls at someones basement. Honestly if my life had a highlight reel, this would be in there somewhere.

After years of hard and faithful training, rising up in the ranks one belt at a time, I was in the black belt club, and I concluded my training when I was a young adult. I was proud of my martial arts training. Even wearing my uniform in public, even at church. It was a lifelong dream to do martial arts and I busted my butt to pay for it. From start to finish, I did it. If I had a different life I might have opened my own martial arts school, specifically a woman’s self defense class.

Many years later, instead of giving my step dad the beating (or worse) that I promised him as a child, I gave him a hug and a Bible and we became real friends.

Jesus is able to arrange that kind of thing. No other gods can do it.

Daydreaming in Art Class

When I was 16 years old I sat in the office of this newish company listening to one of the founders going on and on about what he was going to do. He used to call me up and ask me for business tips. I would give him the best tips I could think of. I had nobody to call and ask for help. I was on my own from day one. This is why it’s so important to use a business consultant. Today I saw in the news that his company generates sales of over $350 Million. I don’t know if he makes a profit from that, but if he kept to his plan, he could be earning upwards of $35 Million after taxes every year. Wow. I went to his brand new building which is along hwy 401 going towards Toronto, it’s almost unbelievable to me. He’s only leasing it but still, I remember his old office with stained up drywall and old carpet and now this gorgeous little glass building. Again when I was 16 years old there was another company in Markham that used to boast to me about how they made $500 Million in annual sales at the time. I told them that they were so mean to people that they probably won’t last. This month I found out they went bankrupt and lost their beautiful building.

Mason visited this month, I met him at a mall and we watched The Corps Bride. I’ve become concerned about my prostate health. Art classes are going well. The class is small, but a lot of fun. It’s like a mini vacation for me. My teacher is a full time artist, he earns his income from art. When I was a child, my teachers thought I would earn my income from my paintings. So did I. But those dreams were dashed, and probably for the best. Although my teacher says his cheapest painting is $1,000. Hmmm.

I sit in art class and I daydream about everything. Which is the same as in high school, I daydreamed during art class then to. My childhood, my current life, my future. Important people in my life, possible wives. My art teacher in high school was super awesome, she liked to listen to the Cranberries on cassette tape and she let me have my own personal tape player so I was always in my own world. My friend Steve lent me some of his music, a style of music called Jungle, and then Nirvana. Another girl gave me an REM tape to borrow. My friend Tony gave me his old radio that had AM, FM and shortwave. This whole month has been about me daydreaming the “what if’s” of life.

Go asif, go asif, go go go asif!

In high school one of the math teachers, who was also a computer science teacher and also a gym teacher wanted me on the track team, but I couldn’t, I had way too much on my plate already.

I frequently jogged on the schools track though. My schoolmate Danny had a house not far away, overlooking the track. As I would run, he would yell out the window “go asif, go asif, go go go asif!”. I wish I had that motivation now. I feel like I’ve lost some of my passion. I’ve been getting paid constantly from the consulting project I finished almost 12 months ago and although I am working hard during the day, I’m not really pushing for anything like I used to. I’m just coasting. I have several things going but I’m not as on fire for my work like before. Part of the reason is that I’ve been working 7 days a week for the last 2 years on a project that’s taken everything out of me and will hopefully pay off very well.

I have an investment project from 2001 that is finally going to conclude at the end of this year plus I have several other ideas for projects I’d like to start, but I’m sort of just dragging my feet. I go to my mailbox every week to pickup cheques. I’m doing some neat missions projects as usual.

I’ve been working like a madman since what, age 6 or 7. So maybe a short slowdown is nothing to be concerned about. I’ll just try to enjoy it.

I know a guy who’s wife spends $250,000 a month on herself

Most of my high school friends who graduated and went to college in the traditional sense are currently either unemployed, or employed and just barely making it or hating it. My other friends are in their 30’s and 40’s and still paying off student loans. I met one of my good former schoolmates and he went into engineering. I asked him why he did that, and he said that the high school counselor told him to. I asked him if it’s what he always wanted to do, he said no, he doesn’t know what he wants to do. He will be designing the bridges that we will all be driving on. He’s a good guy though. My point in saying this is that I really hate the rat race of life.

In both middle school and high school people started to really separate into groups (or clubs as I call them). You had the party girls, the dope smokers, the nerds and the loners to name a few. I wanted to be a loner but I would always end up being the leader of the nerds (and some times a loner). The party girls would sleep with as many people as possible and then boast about it during class. The dope smokers would usually be high and had a passion for video games. The nerds weren’t noble either. They would hack into the schools computer systems to look around and learn more about computers, we wouldn’t do mischief or cause harm, and we let our teachers know how to patch up these security flaws. There was this one time I was trying to impress a group of nerds so I set the libraries computers to sort of auto destruct upon boot up, but before anything bad happened I realized how stupid this was and undid everything before anything happened.

Instead, I ended up upgrading many of the schools computers in a way that completely delighted the school plus saved them tons of money. The staff was very happy with me. I enlisted my nerd friends to do a lot of good in my high school. I don’t know how to do any of that stuff anymore. I was an expert for a brief period of time and now I’m a beginner again, I don’t care to know anything about computers anymore, other than how to get my work done on them. I’m usually several software updates behind.

I’m still friends with some of the teachers and staff. Today I was talking to one of the previous staff members from high school, we were recounting some of my antics. He told me that he still talks about me to his circle of friends and colleagues – good stuff, mostly. I was in the food court of the mall today and one of the old nerd friends of mine asked if I could do some consulting for him. I hadn’t seen him since high school, but he walked up to me like we were still there. In a way I wish I was.

Any way, back to my talk about clubs – no club is perfect, but you’ll end up in one so choose wisely or you’ll have many regrets later on. One thing I’m glad of is that I never got into the cool people club. I hung out with them once or twice, but thankfully no more than that. Looking at them today, none of them have done anything with their lives.

In the year 2000 I was a member of an investment club, monthly membership was about $500. I think we had about 100 members. We would meet online at 8am, and have the chat window at the side of the screen. Some of these guys were geniuses. I witnessed a guy
make a 2,000% return in about 3 months and one guy claimed to make 12,000% in one year but we didn’t have any proof. Most people were conservative, aiming for 10% gains per month. I saw their stock trades. I saw what they were doing. I saw the buy orders and sell orders live on the exchange.

Around lunch time, trader all over take a break and you’d see the trading volume on the exchanges drop off. We use this time to relax and chat a bit, getting to know each other. I would catch up on studying mostly. One of my friends in the club said that his wife spends $250,000 USD per month on herself, every month. Month after month, year after year. Clothing, travel, fancy parties, jewelery. That’s how she lived and why he he was compelled to continue to work. Others continued to amass great fortunes because that’s what they loved to do.

On Jan 10 a squirrel tried to humiliate me, and it won. It started out with a squirrel visiting my balcony. So what did I do? I fed it a slice of bread. But it continued to show up daily and I didn’t have time to be feeding it everyday, so this one day I told it to go away, and instead it started using the bathroom on my balcony and eating my mountain bike seat. I put a slice of bread covered in hot pepper sauce hoping it would take a hint. That made it angry and it bit through my cable wire, cutting out my tv. While I saw it chewing the tv cable, I said to it “I’m going to go look up on Yahoo how to kill squirrels” and you know what it did? Yes, it then ate through the internet cable, cutting my internet access before I had a chance.

After I went to Canadian Tire and got some real squirrel repellant and I ran new wires (a big annoyance for me) for the tv and internet and cleaned up the pee and poo it left on my balcony.

Okay, so my friends asked me for like a real simple yet emotionally rewarding cool thing to do to brighten a persons day: so I shared with them a thing I’ve been doing for a long time.

I set aside $20, $100, $500 – whatever I can afford at the time and I keep a list of wonderful hard working people I know who could be blessed by it and then I hide the money plus an encouraging note where they would find it within 24 hours. I’m writing about this not to boast, I keep most of my giving private, but if you’re looking for a great idea like my friends are, this is one.

Last month I hid $500 and a card in a box of chocolate. The hardest part of this whole thing is when you go to the persons house, you need them distracted for enough time, for example when they use the bathroom. You have to move fast! I have been caught trying to hide $400 in someones shoe, $200 under a tin of baby formula. Another thing is you have to make sure it’s somewhere the person will actually check within a reasonable amount of time, make sure they just won’t throw the item away. For example with the chocolate, I put the money in an envelope under the first level of chocolates, so they would have to eat through that first level, pickup the plastic to get to the second level and see the envelope. They didn’t do this though, and to make things worse, I was at their house a few days later and they were asking me to pray because they needed $400 – and I was trying to drop hints to go eat some chocolates. Finally I had to flat out tell them to go look in the chocolate box for money, lol at first they might have thought it was a miracle and I was a prophet. Nope, I’m just a brown man trying to make it in this world.

Most people die at age 25 and aren’t buried till age 75

Benjamin Franklin is so right.

In 2001 I was asked to do a favor for someone, to hide millions of $ in cash and assets for a very wealthy person because he was about to go through a bitter divorce. I think he wanted me to help hide $10M CAD but I’m not sure anymore. I declined, as I always decline offers like this. Yes I was offered a generous commission and favors in return, and I’m sure some of the people reading this would say “asif’s an idiot, I would have taken the money.” Actually I got insulted for this, for declining. In this life, you get insulted for doing the wrong things which is to be expected, but you can be insulted much more for doing the right thing. There’s no winning sometimes.

I’ll close this entry on a positive note, this has been a good year overall. I worked hard, I prayed hard, I played hard. Every mission and evangelism and outreach project (except 1) did great, many people gave their life to Christ, also many lives were saved.

One of my favorite missions projects this year: Mission Planes. There are several big ones (big passenger liners) that have been converted into mobile hospitals. Licensed doctors are in them, they are fitted to take off and land almost everywhere on the African continent and each landing can help to do emergency medical for hundreds of people plus thousands of important vaccinations and health education for people who would otherwise not receive such attention.

There are several hundred small ones (double person propeller planes) that fly over different countries of the world, to remote tribes. They don’t always land, they usually drop important supplies + christian literature in local languages to villages and people that have no access to the outside world. One of my friends is currently flying one such plane over Australia as I write this. His adventures are too many to number, and hundreds of people are giving their life to Jesus. What a great year.

How the story ends

When I was in grade 2 there was a girl who was different from the others, I think she had a scar on her face or something along those lines. Forgive me if I’m wrong about that part.

She would be made fun of often. Kids can be really nasty and they tend to work in groups.

I came to her rescue this one time and after that she stuck by me always. She would always walk closely behind me, trying not to be seen by me. Sometimes I wouldn’t even know she was there, following behind me quietly smiling. When I would turn around and see her, she would freeze as if that made her invisible, first trying to figure out if she was in trouble, then smiling with relief after I smiled back at her.

Well one day I overheard a group of the bigger boys (this school went up to grade 5 or 6) saying they would pull down her underwear during recess to humiliate her in front of everyone. This horrified me, but being the complete moron that I am, instead of telling the teacher, I told them that I would beat them all up – all 6 of them. One of these kids, named Ronald, might as well have been Andre the Giant or Goliath. Compared to me, he was a big giant. And I was a scrawny little guy that got random nose bleeds and still wet the bed. Worst than that was that my teachers were used to calling 911 because I would randomly faint during class. I was a sickly kid, malnourished and already got beaten up at home. One time I threw up during the national anthem. One time I fainted during a test. Needless to say I wasn’t known as a tough guy in grade 2, at least not yet. Anyway they took me up on my offer, and during lunch break I proceeded to fight 6 kids to defend this girl. The deal was, I would fight them, and they would leave her alone. If I didn’t fight them, they would pull down her underwear.

It was amazing. Oh, no I can’t say that I won in the sense that I beat them all up, because they kicked the crap out of me, even made me swallow sand and dirt. I took punches to the face, my hair pulled, kicks to my balls, scratches. There was blood and tears. I got body slammed several times.

But I did my fair share of damage as well. I fought each kid one by one and sometimes 2 at a time. The worst is when one would try to hold me down while another beats me. Each one of those kids went home with cuts and bruises because of me. The nurse had to tend to our wounds. We all had bruises that would take a few days to heal. Each parent made an inquiry as to what happened to their child, except my parents.

The fight caused such a stir at the school that all the teachers were called, and my super nice teacher, Mrs. Wright cleaned me up. She thought I was amazing, and because of that, I thought she was amazing.

To this very day I still think about, and pray for that girl. I don’t remember her name anymore. I sometimes think it could be Jennifer, but I can’t remember. I hope she’s okay and the Lord knows that I did everything I could for her.

The Bible describes Satan’s fall from heaven, his rise to power, his rule over the earth and his final demise on judgment day, when God binds up Satan and throws him into the lake of fire, with all of his demons and all of his human followers. The bible goes on to describe how all of God’s people live happily ever after in heaven for all eternity. Most biblical manuscripts end the bible with the word Amen.

No matter what, that’s how our story ends. Amen.

I asked a girl to hide $5,000 in her bra for me and she did

You’ve got to watch this new movie called Napoleon Dynamite. This is going to be one of my favorite movies for a very long time. If I had the skills to make a movie, this would be the one I would make. If the Lord asked me to choose my life, I might choose the life of Napoleon Dynamite.

In school, drama was one of the most fun times. By grade 8 everyone wanted me on their drama team. We would come up with unique skits based on books like War of the Worlds or To Kill a Mockingbird. In high school I quickly signed up for the drama class but thanks to all the dope smokers that also signed up (thinking they would get easy credits) I swapped it for Art, which was such a much better decision. (I’m not kidding, one guy pulled out his wiener and peed on the classroom carpet during class, this is the kind of crap teachers had to deal with). I still don’t understand why I didn’t sign up for art in the first place, or both.

In grade school there was an art contest that I won, and my painting, as far as I remember, a very well done tree against a forest was displayed in one of Toronto’s major galleries. Schools from all over came to see and children were with their parents. Except for me, as usual I was without mine. It didn’t completely matter to me, by that time I was usually paying my own way and signing my own permission slips. I was so proud of my work though, nobody could tell that a mean girl scratched a line across the trunk of the tree with her black felt pen. I painted over it and still won.

About a year later the art gallery mailed the piece back to my school, my school mailed it to me (I had moved from North York to Malton by then) and my grandmother threw it out, saying that it was against our Muslim religion to have such art in the house. I reminded her that we recently were taught at our Mosque that the same Muslim religion allows me to beat her for being so disobedient to me, but that didn’t fair very well for me. :) Come on I was like 9 years old.

I would get used to this though, this thing where I would build something and the family in my life would tear it down for one reason or another. Everything was an uphill battle. Nothing was simple. I hear about these young business people who succeeded in a big way and I try to find out about their home life. What kinds of beatings were they taking each day, how many busted noses did they have to clean up right before school, how many times did they come home to see all their possessions gone, how often did 100% of their money go towards family expenses?

Do some art, it goes into the garbage. Buy some neat toy for myself, it gets sent to Guyana to more needy children. Build a business, all the money goes into the family expenses leaving almost nothing for my needs and nothing to reinvest into the business. There were many times that I missed school trips simply because all my money went to the phone bill or car payment or an emergency. When I was in grade 1 I would purchase candy from a convenience store at Bathurst and Finch, reselling it for a profit at school. One day my mom found my money stash and not only did I get a beating, but she took away the money. I couldn’t understand her deep stupidity – I wondered at the time why we bothered coming to Canada if I wasn’t going to get any opportunity – and this was in grade 1!

Once in a while I’d be able to afford both family expenses and mine and I’d sign my own permission slip and have a great day on a school trip. I was about 15 or 16 years old when I dropped out of high school. A few days before I dropped out I brought like $5,000 cash to school, profit I had made doing computer related consulting, and asked a cute girl in the library to keep it in her bra for me till the end of the school day. I don’t know why I brought the money, or why I asked the cute girl to do it. I wasn’t having sex or anything like that, I wasn’t trying to show off I don’t think. I just thought it would be an interesting thing to ask a girl for. She did it to, right in front of me. It was so awesome.

My guidance councilor found out about it though, and called me to his office during math class. He asked me what was going on, my grades went from 90’s to 30’s rapidly. And I told him. He then called a bunch of my friends to his office to gather more info and gain references. By that time I tried to shore up my grades by paying some of the girls to do my homework, and some others to come to my house and be my assistant in my home office and that worked out well. One time, age 15, I was eating a deliciously prepared lunch, watching the Flintstones, while one girl cleaned for me and another was outside changing the tire tube on my mountain bike. My high school councilor listened to these things, and the testimony of my friends made his jaw drop.

This brings me to why I really like Napoleon Dynamite so much. I wonder what life would be like if that was it. No real problems, no real situations, just wake up, feed your Lama, go to school, ride your bike. Or be Kip and talk to hot babes on the internet all day.

In the movie there’s this man named Uncle Rico, and that’s exactly who I’m turning out be. Uncle Rico is old and feels all washed up. He thinks about the 80’s and how far he could have thrown a football. “If the coach would have put me in the championship game, we would have won.” I feel like that’s the story of my life. Being able to do something, but never getting a clean opportunity. Uncle Rico would trade it all for a time machine so he could go back and do it all differently. I would to.

Or maybe I’d just move forward. Why? Jesus promises that this life will be very tough for a lot of people, in fact He promises that it will be just a brutal challenge for most of His followers. The glory, the reward, that happens later.

Napoleon got his happy ending, one day so will every follower of Jesus. Ours will last for all eternity.

the roof is on fire

A good teacher is priceless. And I do believe that it takes a community to raise a child, especially these days where there aren’t many good parents left in Canada. In middle school I would visit my primary school teachers. In high school my friend Corey and I would visit our middle school teachers. In college I would visit my high school teachers. I’m still friends with some of them, and a lot of them are in the retirement stage. I fear for them though, because even though most of them are in a stage of retirement, the ones who are left might be fired for what is being called politically incorrect or intolerance. Back in my days teachers were in charge of the kids and allowed to teach and say whatever they wanted to say if it would raise up good men and women. For example our gym teacher Mr. K taught us about being responsible, my English teacher Mrs. Bell taught us to wait till we are married to have sex. Today she might be forced to hand out condoms. Today the kids are in charge and the teachers can only say what is politically correct, even if it’s wrong. And because of this I fear that many of Canada’s children will grow up to be wimps. I think the bully problem will get worst and based on what I see on the net, things are getting worst in society.

Anyway about 10 years ago Corey and I visited Mr. Morris and incredibly, not only did he still remember me but he still had an unfinished project of mine tucked away near his desk. He pulled it out from his files and asked me to finish it. I told him no lol but I was amazed that he had my unfinished homework.

He taught me several life lessons I still use to this day:

– Sometimes rules need to be broken. Middle school had a serious rule that only 1 person per class was allowed to go to the bathroom at a time. One day one of our classmates was moving away to Kingston Ontario and was crying, Mr. Morris let her go to the bathroom with a girlfriend. He said no at first, then said yes when he saw her crying.

– Get a different perspective on problems when you are stumped. He would do this thing where he would write a complicated problem on the chalk board and pretend he was solving it with us. He would pretend he didn’t know the answer, get up from his desk and go stand in a bizarre corner of the classroom. He’s say something like “I need to see this problem from a different angle.” I still do this to this day.

Now here’s one of the real reasons I really liked him: At that time in life, grade 8, I didn’t know anything about computers, I used to make fun of people who had them, “oh hi I’m Asif, I’m a genius, I have a computer, I can help you with your taxes.” is what I used to say to people who had computers. Many of my classmates had them though. Mr. Morris would ask me to fix computers and it got me out of class. I don’t know if he thought I knew about computers, because I didn’t, I rarely ever touched them at the time. It could have been some kind of lesson he was trying to teach me. But I would learn all about it because the more computers I could fix for the school, the more class time I could avoid. I ended up fixing just about every computer at that school, while getting full class credit.

He is on my list of favorite teachers. Of course today he can’t pull those kinds of stunts. Kids like me would be heavily medicated and given false disabilities. He would simply be fired for giving too much homework or for pushing kids too hard. Teachers are no longer in charge, it’s nut job parents and kids who are in charge, and if their children don’t want to do their homework, the parents just complain till the teacher gets fired. Get their children falsely diagnosed with some fake disability and over-medicated. I see parents all the time who complain that their child has ADHD, when really they are just bad parents and their child is spoiled rotten. Okay, obviously some of the kids have real disabilities, but every reasonable adult knows that most people fake it. Go ahead, ask your doctor.

The last day of Lancaster middle school was filled with action, one of the local dope smokers lit the school on fire, apparently starting with the massive stage curtains in the gym. Turns out that now many years later the school will undergo a massive renovation.

A few years later in high school when I was walking up Airport Road back to Malton, this same kid caught up with me for a chat. He lived in one of the newer, nicer houses and had a lot of toys. People told me he was basically a spoiled brat who was always on playtime. He ruined that last day of school for us, my backpack had some of my prized possessions inside at a time in life when I didn’t have very much at all. It was lost due to the fire.

Fast forward to when I was in high school, he was coming home from his probation meeting or something like that and I was coming home from job hunting. I considered pushing him off the sidewalk into traffic but during the long walk with him I thought it through. Too many witnesses first of all, but more than that, I felt sorry for him. He was a real loser. Today I hope and pray that he’s doing better.

Today I woke up, had some tea, read the bible, worshiped, spent time in prayer, then I worked to around 530pm, then did some errands. For dinner I had a salad and a cheeseburger from Mcdonalds. As a treat I have cotton candy. Now I’m typing up this journal and hopefully I’ll watch some tv tonight, go out for a prayer walk and be ready for bed around 11. Almost every day I’ve been doing a lot of biking riding all over the trans Canada trail and Malton with Mason and Eggbert. Sometimes we invite others along and it’s really fun. One time we went to Woodbine Centre after to get Chinese food and another time we went to Popeye’s at Albion Road to get biscuits. I like getting discount clothing from Albion Mall. They have track suits there for $8.

I have this box of precious memories, I call it my treasure chest. My grandma would usually throw out every good thing I had, so it was a struggle to keep certain things hidden within the furniture of my bedroom. I’ve amassed a small box with hundreds of little important trinkets that I like to look at. I’ve been keeping them in a secure location the last few years, I have them with me again. This month I’ve been looking through it, organizing it as best I can. There’s my stamp collection, stock certificate collection, old currency collection, fathers day cards to me. Photos, old video tape, there’s notes written to me by children that say “I love you Asif” or “Asif I wish you were my dad”, drawings, old letters, report cards that say “Asif can do better.” If those teachers would have spent a few nights at my house they would have given me straight A’s.

My neighbor across the hall does Tae Kwon Do. She seems to get locked out of her apartment often. On May 13 I invented a really good lemon chicken recipe. I own 2 pairs of shoes and I’m happy with that.

On May 29, Mason and I did our longest bike riding adventure so far. 7 hours in total, we rode from Malton to Harbor front in Toronto. We used the Trans Canada trail, riding through forests and so on, so it wasn’t a direct route. We didn’t ride for speed, but for enjoyment. When we got to harbor front we took a break, ate a hot dog from a street vendor, and then started the ride back. I saw chipmunks up close for the first time, and there was a shot my camera couldn’t get – we were riding through a forest, on a dirt path, something like you’d see in a movie. The sunlight pierced through the trees and it looked like beams of light shining through. We got back after dark. Talk about work out. Talk about fun.

The mission takes priority

When I was in high school I was not in the in crowd. I was mostly a loner with too much responsibility to notice what was going on around me. I was also in the video club, and the nerd club which was fine with me. One day I got an invite to a cool people party. I can’t remember what cool thing I did to get this invite, I think it had something to do with beating up a dirt bag that was mistreating a girl. If you know me you know that I don’t go to parties. Never have, never will. I did stop by this one to see what it was like because a girl asked me to take her there safely. It’s just like what you see in the movies with the booze and the making out and silly behavior. Super hot high school girls ruining their lives one boy at a time. Fast forward though to today and the people I knew from that party are mostly doing nothing with their lives. I do stop and chats with some of them at the mall and it’s just sad. Today I met one of them in a convenience store at the Westwood Mall and asked him what he’s been up and he said “staying high”.

Several times in my life, I have learned that the in crowd is the sin crowd. They are the crowd that most people strive to attain membership in, but the worst crowd to be a part of. Everything looks good on the outside. Smiles, friendship, even fun and love. But it’s not real. It doesn’t last. It breaks down. It’s not worth it. Plenty of backstabbing, plenty of gossip. Everyone wants everyone else to fail.

I’m trying out this new thing called digital cable. Basically you have a box you attach to your tv and you get more channels, plus movies on demand and special content. After enjoying it for a few days I was reminded that America has had similar technology for a while, maybe not digital though, in fact I rented a movie on demand back in the late 80’s or early 90’s in New York City. To my recollection it was either something with Hulk Hogan or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Why is Canada behind on these things? And why do companies market their technology as new when it’s been in existence and use for a long time? I don’t mean this about the digital cable but everything.

I watched my friend C give his life to Jesus in the late 90’s. I think 1998 or 1999. At the time he was about 6ft tall and maybe 275+ lbs. (dude if you’re reading this and I’m wrong about your weight, I’m so sorry) I was sitting way at the back and he walked from the very back all the way down the isle during an emotional church service, and fell down on the ground at the alter. He was crying hard. When others saw this they started crying. K brought him to church, I think that was his first time. Later we would be camping in Bancroft and we shared a tent. While I was trying to sleep, my other friend L came into the tent, and her and C chatted the night away. It wouldn’t be much long after that for them to get married, and I stood near him at his wedding as a groomsmen / usher. Fast forward to now, on April 4th I visited that old church again and took photos with C and L and their new baby boy. I held him while they took photos of me to. It was nice visiting with good friends that I haven’t seen for a long time. We all took photos and it was like I was always there this whole time. When God calls you away to do other things, it’s both exciting and terrible. But all in all everything will come full circle, in heaven we’ll all be back together again. The mission takes priority.

When I share the gospel with people, it’s just random people. Sometimes it leads to nothing because a person isn’t interested. Other times it leads to a person converting and living for Jesus, other times it leads to death threats including fists, knives and guns. From drug dealers who lost paying customers to bad husbands who’ve lost their punching bag, not everyone is happy to see people convert and be set free.

I remind myself, the mission takes priority. The mission takes priority.

Night time prayer time is my favorite prayer time

My morning time prayers are important and a foundation for my life. But sometimes they can be rushed, especially depending on my schedule. My night time prayers are usually my favorite. I spend a good hour at least and I’m not rushed or stressed because it’s the end of the day. I find that the better I pray, the better I sleep and the better I wake up. The better I live.

I realized that in recent years that I’ve been talking about regaining my fitness, and now realize that I’ve been trying to regain my youth. Specifically my youthful energy and vitality. I’m aging, and I confused it with being out of shape. It’s true that I’m out of shape but that’s not the real issue. I have wrinkles, droopy elbow skin, and thinning gray hair. There’s no going back from this, I’ll just learn to enjoy it. At the gym this dude said “Asif give me some tips, how did you get that chest?”. Somehow I dumbbell pressed my way to a ripped and larger than average chest muscles which I’ll enjoy while I can because they say that it’ll start to get saggy after a while and turn into man boobs.

My neighbor, a man, got ultra massive pec implants. I don’t know how he found a doctor to put in such big implants. And I get it, hitting the gym every day is hard and doesn’t always take us to our goals. But he’s got a normal thin / athletic frame and a terminator chest. He walks around town shirtless. Everyone just gawks because it looks so incredibly unrealistic, like a special effect.

At the rate I’m going, I won’t finish my bachelors degree for years, lol, but at least I’m doing it debt free. My friends make fun of me but at least I’m doing it, and I’m paying as I go so I won’t have student loans. I was advised today that since I don’t have a high school diploma, (I dropped out around age 15 or 16) I’ll have go take a GED exam so I can then be granted my degree. Doh!

The last time I was in high school, the teachers were giving me money because my team was replacing their old computers for really really good new ones. I was wearing sneakers, bluejeans and a suit jacket with the label still on the cuff. A science teacher told me that had to be cut off. My English teacher, concerned about me dropping out asked me if I was earning at least $100,000 / year, which I was not. I did have a job offer on the table for $60,000 and it wouldn’t be long after and I would be offered a job of $80,000. It would be a good long while before I would see $100,000 / year. But I was happy.

If Frodo can do it then so can we

Yeah I watched part 3. I got the books for Christmas as well but I can’t read the books after I watch the movie. Spoiler alert: Frodo did it. He completed his quest and lived happily ever after. Find out from God what your quest is, then spend your life on it. Heaven is your happily ever after.

The past couple of years for me has been almost non stop adventure and bizarre circumstances, one after another. 2003 was an awesome roller coaster, I spend today looking at my journals for the year. There aren’t very many because I’ve been so busy doing so much. Moving into 2004, I’m hoping for like, no adventure. Just a nice boring existence. Winter has set in nice and good and I’m enjoying it.

In Canada, there is talk about legalizing drugs. I don’t care if we do, as long as whoever does drugs doesn’t expect society to pay for their mistakes. I talked to my doctor about doing anabolic steroids just to try them out, and after getting his good advise, I tried some.
This was last year – I did a very short, 2 week cycle of testosterone precursors called androstenedione or something like that. Why did I do it? Call it youthful curiosity. I wanted to see what would happen. Maybe I just wanted a boost.

When I was a teen I setup a makeshift gym and fight club in my garage, people from the neighborhood would come to fight or lift weights. We didn’t have any good equipment, a home made squat rack, a portion of a skid for calf raises. Different sizes of plastic weights. I filled a large US Army issued carryall bag part way with sand and we used that as a punching bag, when we weren’t using each other for punching bags. People would come over asking for me and my grandmother would use her fists to do a boxing motion and would say “asif is boxing, he’s boxing”.

The dealer I bought the stuff from was the size of a bear and he said the stuff works – and boy did it. Strength and endurance went up through the roof almost right away. I think I did over 100 full pushups and 25 full pullups and went about my day like it was nothing. I can’t believe this stuff is completely legal in America. I bet that lots of young people will start to do steroids. At the 2 week point I started to feel like it would turn me into a flesh eating zombie so I threw out the rest of the supply and lost most of my gains. My doctor (who I spoke to through this whole process), laughed and laughed. He told me that when I’m much older, in my 50’s that I should ask him again, and maybe we can do it properly and in a way that actually benefits me permanently.

Which brings me to my Merry Christmas and Happy new Year message: Sometimes it’s a good idea to abandon your direction. Sometimes the plan sounds smart but will lead to stupid results. Sometimes the outcome isn’t worth the consequences. Sometimes the smartest thing you can do is to stop, and walk away. To give up doesn’t mean to lose. Sometimes the biggest losers are the ones who don’t know when to give up.

Jesus Heals

I took a trip to Peterborough Ontario, I haven’t been here since like 1999 or 2000 and the last time I was here, I didn’t get to stop and enjoy as much as I wanted, but this time I did. Now when I got out of the van, of course the button on my jeans flew right off. It got sewn up right there in the parking lot while they were still on me which gave all the onlookers something to talk about before service.

We went to this church that had free delicious orange drink and donuts that you could eat before, during and after service. I have never seen this before in my life and I think it’s just the greatest thing. Also the sermon started with a Jim Carey video clip on a projector screen and I have never seen this kind of technology used in a church before, just old fashioned overhead projectors and not even free water. After there was a question and answer time. This is the most modern church I’ve ever seen.

Any way to my main story. Back in like grade 6 there was a beautiful girl name Maryanne. We called her psycho bitch because she used to beat us up, put caterpillars down our shirt and squish them. Every time we would see her, we would run away because of all her roughhousing. This was crazy because we (the boys) would roughhouse as well. I mean back then we would light things on fire and cause all kinds of mischief, but we couldn’t handle being beaten up by a beautiful girl.

I became a Christian at age 17, and I lost contact with Maryanne a few years prior, although I would hear about her once in a while because she dated some of my close friends.

When I was in college and doing an internship around age 19, I met her again at Tim Hortons. She was a cashier and just had a round of chemotherapy. She had cancer and had lost all her hair from the treatment. She was smiling at me while holding back tears. “I’ll never have children” she said. Without thinking (story of my life) I told her that Jesus would heal her, and tried to tell her as much as I could about my new found faith before I had to go (there were other customers in the line). I gave her my contact information.

I make promises to people all the time. Most of the time I come through, sometimes I don’t. When I tell people about Jesus though, I really boast. I boast big. And I had boasted big about Jesus to Maryanne in front of other people. When I got home I almost started to panic, because I realized I promised this girl that Jesus would come through for her and that one day she would have kids.

Fast forward to right now, several years later. I had just picked up a Medium pizza with Nathan and when we were walking outside of the mall in front of Price Chopper, I hear a scream “asif, asif!”. Maryanne ran up to me and before I had a chance to react, she jumped on me, arms and legs wrapped around me completely. I was surprised my spine didn’t collapse. All the weight lifting has been working out. Her hair is long and beautiful, in fact she’s more beautiful than I remember.

She went on to Nathan about how great of a man I am. (She and Nathan had never met prior). She really went on. And of course I’m not, but God is so great He came through for both me and Maryanne. I wish everyone who was in the Tim Hortons years prior could see. Both of us grew up in tough environments. Both of us came up from the wrong side of the tracks. Both of us have been healed by Jesus.

And yes, she now has a beautiful biological son. I write these journals so that I can one day read them again. But this story doesn’t require a journal entry. I’ll remember it for eternity.