Disappointed At Myself

Disappointment. I sit here at my desk and stare out the window. I can see the Westwood Mall, Petro Canada gas station and hundreds of people going about their lives. Around 9am, 11:30am and 3pm I see thousands of school children of all ages walking by, talking, laughing, fighting, crying. Black kids calling each other n****** and drug dealers trying to gain new customers.

I’m also trying to gain new customers which isn’t easy in a hurting economy. People are trying to scale back not scale up.

Anyway I’m just in a state of limbo in some important areas. I feel like I’m moving along really well in some areas like my spirit life, my schooling. But my work life is the same old crap. I’m the most frustrated with myself I guess.

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.

Old things can lead to new things, new things can lead to old things

In Guyana, I slept on a real bed with my grandmother. Her house cost her $500 USD cash back in the 50’s and is still standing strong today. Maybe some Canadian construction companies can learn a thing or two? When we moved to Canada, I slept on the floor for the first few years. I had a sponge to sleep on and it was perfectly fine. When I turned 7 years old I got my first bed. I gave that bed away a while back, and I’m now sleeping on the floor again which is very enjoyable for me.

My friends call me a minimalist. I like to give away my things and have the least amount of possessions as humanly possible. I don’t even like having multiple pens.

I’m at the gym 5 days a week even in the winter. I walked through like a foot of snow and ice cold wind to get to the gym, which has been moved to the other side of town while renovations are happening at the main location. One of the long time trainers was there and I asked her for some advise, she complimented my little muscles. Yes, I will be extending my membership!

I helped Mason with his job hunting, writing his resume and handing it out with him in many places. He got a job at Woodbine Centre, specifically he helps a woman’s lingerie / underwear department. He’s as happy as can be and all I hear from him is about how great his job is. He text messages me to tell me about how happy he is to be walking to his job (he even goes early), he texts me during breaks to tell me about his adventures, he even stays late after work. He goes on and on about the beautiful women he helps all day and night. I’ve never heard anyone speak so happily about their job. I haven’t achieved this yet. Most people haven’t. Most people aren’t super excited to go to work, most don’t stay late on purpose.

I visited him there, well, I went there to spy on him, and the dude was helping women choose lingerie with a huge smile on his face. I watched him smile for like a good 10 minutes straight. I was laughing because I thought it was hilarious, and I was at awe at how this young man had reached such a great level of happiness so fast. I’ve known him about 7 years and never seen him smile so much. Most of us will never reach that level of happiness at a job, or at anything, ever.

So the consulting project I’m working on right now will provide me with an income for 2 years. Not a big income, but enough to pay my rent, car, gas, phone, insurance, etc and several decent sized missions projects. I’m also going to try to do a big project along side this one and see if I can get a small bank to like my idea. Problem is it won’t actually pay me for like 4 more months which is making things really tight around here. Another risk is that I won’t get paid at all, this has happened several times and leads to great discouragement. Nobodies fault, that’s just the way it is. I’ve consulted for companies that have gone under part way though, and I didn’t find out till I visited the office to see the eviction notice on the door. Other times I’ll find out that the company I’m working with / for has been purchased by another company and all the previous management fired or replaced – and they have no idea who I am. And yes once in while things will work out better than expected and I’ll do better than expected and get paid more than expected.

I’m still in the beginning stages of this project which involves making a lot of phone calls, I’m on the phone almost all day doing my research, which is annoying but still better than traveling. My little suitcase is gathering dust, I like that. Maybe one day soon I can give it away to.

Most of my friends have internet access now. So we all chat online after work. It’s so different. No waiting weeks or even months for letters to arrive in the mail from my missionary friends, or phone calls at hours with static connections. They are basically in countries all over the world which makes communication difficult. Pretty much all of them have some form of internet access now. Time zones aren’t even such a bother anymore. One of my friends doing missions in the Ukraine got spat on, simply because she was there and the person didn’t like Christians. I’m currently trying to gain steam on an Orphanage in the Ukraine, at the rate I’m going this project will be done, realistically by the year 2015. I started it in 2001. It breaks my heart but it’s the best I can do. I hate that so much but it’s out of my hands. Some projects move fast, some move slow.

More than 100 children and 20 call me dad

Okay, so here’s a fun twist to my life. My friends approached me asking if I wanted to go garbage picking, and I laughed and laughed. They were serious though, so I went with them to see what was going on, you know if I should check them into the local loony bin or what.

We drove to Oakville, this super gorgeous city with beautiful women jogging on the sidewalk (in Malton, you don’t see this, you usually see people running for their life). Anyway in Oakville, once a year they do this cool thing where people can put their used items on the curb, for other people to come and take. Not garbage, but actually useful items like furniture, electronics and nic nacs. The reason this is great for us is that we know people who need things for their home, and we can’t afford to pay for all of that stuff out of our own pockets but we can spend time looking through items on hundreds of curbs and pick out the items.

We found some great treasures including working computers, tvs, and of course furniture.

We found a beautiful solid wood office desk, that was way too heavy but so nice we didn’t want to leave it. We knew who we would be giving it to and were excited to get it there. Nathan and I had to take this thing in the elevator up 3 floors and then down a long hallway, and then up a narrow flight of stairs and we were wondering how we would do that last part, this desk might have been several hundred pounds with no real place to hold it while taking it up the stairs. When we got to the location a young black teen was standing around outside in the dark and to my amazement asked if we needed help.

This surprised me, at first I figured he was one of my former kids who was now a teen but I couldn’t recognize him at all. I didn’t want to say anything though because if he was one of my kids and I couldn’t remember, then he would be hurt and I would feel terrible. It’s fair to say that I’ve worked closely with over 100 children and teens at this point, and I can’t remember them all. Sometimes I’ll be walking in the mall and they’ll walk up and hug me, most are way taller than me now. Even some of the girls. There’s a young man who comes over for dinner 2-3 nights a week, he’s a tall, muscular super dark skinned black youth. He doesn’t knock, he just finds his way in somehow. I’ll be watching tv, and turn around and there he is. I know he’s from one of the churches, and he’s a good kid. Always listens to me, never causes me any problems.

It took a long time for the 3 of us to get that desk up the stairs, it was really brutal. I was so impressed with this young man that I offered to buy him a whole pizza, and he wasn’t even surprised at all, as if he hung out with me before. We drove him over to 241 and got him a media pizza and some soda, then drove him home. I still have no idea if he’s one of my kids I worked with in the past but anyway, God bless him for being such a help.

Now in Guyana, and other parts of the world, this is how we got most of our possessions: picking through the dump. I remember my first tricycle, right out of the dumpster, and my uncle made 2 solid wooden rear wheels for it that weren’t held on by bolts, so they would wobble as I rode, I loved that bike so much and you know what, it’s still being used today. I have a photo of me riding it in my underwear and it’s one of my favorite memories.

Just Hi?

I was at the gym today to add some muscles to my skinny frame…and a guy seemed to be sleeping on one of the machines :) It was kinda humerus but I needed to use the machine. Anyway after a while he did get up and go to another machine (shoulder press). He took the bench for the bench press to sit on.
I walked over to the bench to do bench presses .. but no bench of course. Where is the seat for the shoulder press machine? Hmmm…some married guy was hitting on a girl..and sitting on the shoulder machine chair he took. (I had been hearing him flirt with her) Anyway I went over and asked him for the seat so the other guy could take it and gimme back the bench :) And he left: ) hehe. Stop trying
to pickup women! Be happy with ur wife and treat her well…u wont need even need to look at another woman.

When I eat I do not like to wear fancy clothes. I like to wear sweatpants when I eat. I like to sit on the floor at a coffee table when I eat. When I come home, I change my clothes and wear ‘home clothes’. So if I have to go somewhere I have to change.

I just got back from the coffee store again (I’ve been frequently going there when I’m up so late) and once again;

me: Do u have any sandwiches
girl: no
me: Do you have any soup
girl: no
me: ok I’ll have a large milk
girl: anything else?
girl: starts laughing
me: starts laughing
I drove through. It was the same girl who works the late night shift.
She says ‘ohhhh im so tired’. I asked her what shift she works and she said the 11 pm-6am shift. OUCH. I’ve done that shift many times. She leaned over the window and said ‘I’m really tired and I want to go home, before i came here I got really high on “E”‘. (I figured “E” to mean the drug called extasy, even though I dont know anything about the drug). I said “oh, I dont know much about extasy but be careful ok?” She said “dont worry I know what I’m doing (typical response from someone who probably does not know what they are doing) I said “And, what are you doing?”

This week will be the last time I shave off my hair for a long while. I’ll let it grow again.

Interacting with someone is the best way to know them.
Interacting with God is the best way to know Him.