I lost the contact lens for my right eye this afternoon at church because I was crying.
At the end of the service the pastor asked for a period of silence for prayer. My prayer started out with me pouring my latest worry to God, asking Him for help and blessings. “Please God, help me with xx and yy,” I prayed.
Then for some reason, my prayer flipped around. I started giving thanks to Him. I thought of my parents who drove down to Asheville to visit me. I thought of the kindness and generosity of the Olaskys. I thought of the productive and meaningful friendship with Chelsea. I thought of all the wonderful lessons and daily activities I’ve been enjoying here at Asheville. And these powerful emotions of joy and gratitude poured forth together with tears.
That’s how I lost my contact lens, but even for that I gave thanks because I realized how lucky I am to have both eyes that work. 20 minutes without my right contact lens, and my left eye was already starting to ache and water from the double-work strain. And when I got home, I gave thanks to God for letting me drive home safely, although I was half-blind, and as I was greeted by the Olaksys’ warm smiles, I gave thanks to God once again for them.
I had one of my happiest moment this week on July 4th. It was in the evening after a delightful meal.
My parents, Chelsea and I walked out to Park Square Park to view the fireworks. Already the square was crowded with Asheville residents, some dressed in patriotic getups and paint, most dressed in casual khakis and sandals.
I really wasn’t expecting much. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen fireworks, and I wasn’t exactly looking forward to it. I guess I was just never brought up in a culture where communities gathered together to watch fireworks in commemoration of a national holiday.
But once the fireworks performance uncorked and a spray of brilliant lights shattered across the sky, my breath was taken away.
The sky! So beautiful! The glare! The sparkle! The glitter! The showers of diamonds and rubies and emeralds and opals and sapphires! Dancing, shimmering, swaying, exploding, mushrooming, ricocheting, shooting, boom, bang, bam, WOW!
There I was, sitting next to my parents and Chelsea, gazing up speechless into the universe that God created, feeling so small yet so grand under the orchestra of chemistry above us. My dad shocked me by pulling out his iPhone and videotaping the whole thing—when did he get so tech-savvy? Next thing I know, he’ll be texting!
I couldn’t see my face, but I knew I was grinning from ear to ear. I couldn’t see the expressions of other people in the massive crowd, but I knew they all had similar happy expressions on their faces, judging by the way they whooped and clapped in glee. I was absolutely convinced that at that single moment, nobody in that audience of hundreds was unhappy. For that few minutes on Independence Day, everybody was united in a common appreciation for the spectacular fireworks performance and what it represents.
That would be the last night I share with my parents this summer. And it was one of my happiest night ever. My dad sang a tragic Korean folksong on the drive back to their hotel, but even while listening to the mournful wail of traditional Korean music, my heart was singing with joy.
It really doesn’t take much for a person to feel happiness, does it? All it took for me that night was the company of people I love, a 15-minute display of fireworks, and a delicious dinner.
I haven’t been too impressed with the dining scene here in Asheville. Perhaps I’m just visiting the wrong places. But this particular restaurant that we visited on July 4th was freaking amazing. We were originally planning to go to Tupelo Honey Cafe, but because of the 45-minute wait, we walked across the street to Jerusalem Garden Cafe instead.
Even that required a 15-minute wait, but that was better than a 45-minute one. It was silly to visit restaurants in downtown Asheville on Independence Day.
I’m glad we waited though, because the food here is truly awesome. The decorations are kind of kooky—ornate drapes over the ceiling and Arabic cushions and tablemats.
Jerusalem Garden Cafe offers Mediterranean and Moroccan food at a fairly decent price, and according to the Olaskys, they usually present belly dancing performances every night. But we missed that because it was July 4th and the place was packed.
I think my parents have been protein-deficient during their mission trip because every meal we’ve had together recently have been meat-based. This time, my dad wanted steak and my mom wanted lamb. My dad ordered the steak (medium-cooked) with some kind of mushroom-pesto-sundried tomato cream sauce.
It came with roasted asparagus (yum!), rice pilaf and toasted pita.
My God, this was lovely. The meat was so tender, and the sauce is so flavorful! Creamy, yet not in a milky, cloying way.
I got the vegetable platter:
I can’t resist platters: You get eight things in one long plate! This one came with hummus, baba ghanoush, falafel, stuffed grape leaves, olives, tabouleh, tahini salad, and hot pita.
Love the pita. It was nice and doughy. I blame Tracy for getting me hooked on this round flatbread.
The baba ghanoush and falafel were the best stuff on this platter.
But I think the star dish of that meal was my mom’s. She got the pistachio-crusted lamb chop with pomegranate drizzle.
Look at that! Like a savory, meaty lollipop!!
My mom gave us a pop each.
We look happy, yes we do.
After dinner we strolled around downtown a bit, but it was difficult considering all the crowd gathered to watch the fireworks. At about 9:30 p.m., people young and old, male and female, punk and Republican, tattoed and pierced, all sat side-by-side to watch atoms explode in the sky.
The best July 4th ever.