Mai Gems: February

For the month of February, a few highlights were:

  • started a new personal study project
  • had family worship every week with my own family
  • gotten close to a friend and her family
  • followed through my 30 day cleanse
  • got promoted to shift lead
  • attended a dear friend’s wedding
  • filled out the “serve where need is greater” application

This month was a personal struggle for me. It seems like once something happens, Satan just attacks you at the worst with so many challenges. I had let myself turn into a mess. But I had meditated on a few scriptures throughout this month to keep in mind that this is all temporary and for strength. 1 Peter 5:9-11.

But take your stand against him.. after you have suffered a little while, the God of all undeserved kindness.. will make you firm. He will make you strong. He will firmly ground you”


MK’s Soybean Kimchi Udon

I had shared on Instagram a few clips of one of my dishes. Last night, I made a Japanese udon and a lot of people were interested in the recipe. Unfortunately I do not have photos of all the ingredients I used. But I will insert a link on everything that I am able to find ūüôā

Just to let ya’ll know, I rarely cook with measurements. It’s all about the taste and eyeing everything to me. If you make this and it’s a bit too salty for your tasting or spicy, add one tsp. of brown granulated sugar or less chili!

Ingredients:                                                                   Servings: 3

  • 1 package of soybean paste (you can get this at any Chinese or Korean Market. Ex: 99 Ranch Market/Hmart)
  • 1 package of 4 precooked kimchi seasoned tofu, cut into bite size (there’s different flavors!)
  • 1/2 white cabbage, sliced thinly
  • ground black pepper & salt
  • 1 package of udon
  • 4 chicken tenders, cut into bite¬†size cubes
  • butter
  • 1 large tomato, cubed
  • 1/2 lemon, juice and zest
  • handful of cilantro, chopped
  • 1 cob of fresh corn (optional, makes¬†the soup sweeter)
  • 3 tbsp. kimchi
  • 3 tbsp. Chinese chili sauce
  • 1 tsp. dried chili flakes
  • 1/2 garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, sliced and chopped

In a medium pot, boil water and cook udon noodles for 4 minutes or until it is soft. Drain and run through with cold water. Set aside.

In a small bowl, put in your cut chicken pieces with a few sprinkles of pepper, salt, dried chili flakes. Saute¬†chicken and minced garlic with butter in a saucepan over medium high heat until it’s firm. Don’t let the garlic burn! It should be golden yellow when the chicken is cooked. Set aside.

In a medium pot, put in 2 1/2 cups of water to a boil then put in the soybean paste. Lower to medium heat; put in the chicken, tomatoes, corn, tofu, chili sauce, and yellow onion. Cover it and let simmer for 3 minutes.

Since the pot is very hot already, turn off heat and put remainder of the ingredients: udon, kimchi, lemon juice and zest, cabbage, and cilantro (optional: you can use this and more cabbage for garnish!). Put in bowl and for a creamy flavor, top it off with a sunny side egg!

I hope you all will enjoy this soup. I love udon and it’s so easy to put together. Please let me know what your outcome was! Thank you so much for the love and interests!

Mai Gems: January

I can’t believe the first month of the year is coming to an end. To begin, I got hit by a car.

Literally, I did. I was walking towards the entrance of Walmart when a driver who wasn’t paying attention, turned towards my direction and hit me directly on my left knee with her front left bumper. Talk about starting the year of with a big hit! (get it?) On the bright side, my bone isn’t fractured. But the tissues on top of it is torn. On another bright side, it’s not separated. Still dangerous though. I had to be on crutches and brace for two in a half weeks. Those weeks were horrible. But it was a great conversation starter. I haven’t been able to go out in service very much. But with constant physical therapy, I was able to take off the brace and crutches sooner than expected! I still need to work on balancing both of my legs since I don’t have anything to lean on. It did make me appreciate my legs even more and not take them for granted. I do need to be careful and my knee is still very weak and damaged. I don’t know how long it will take to mend. But being a tad active has been helping my upper muscles gain back their balance, helping my knee.

I found myself falling into depression a few weeks afterwards since my sister was hospitalized. It was a few rough weeks. I had a lot on my plate, more than what I could handle and it was breaking me down. With diligent prayer, I’m very grateful to have wonderful elders and friends in the congregation for help and encouragement.

But even with those events, my month grew to get better.

I kept myself busy with uplifting productivity. Although I was not able to go out in service much, I did get to witness to some people during work, informal at the doctor, and text messaging/phone calling publishers!

All thanks to Jehovah, I made it to my 2017 Pioneer Meeting! This meeting was so encouraging for all of the pioneers, reminding us that even though we do a lot, Jehovah will always provide for what we need at the perfect time. This meeting came at the most needed time for me, personally. It was a wonderful evening spending quality time with everyone getting to know each other.

During this month, I focused more on the kids in the congregation. I always think of them and in what fun ways I can help with the parents to keep their children busy during the meetings. I had put together a variety of candies and made goody bags. Each filled with a different project inside. It was a small piece of paper either with “What are a few things I love about Jehovah”? and “What is my favorite Bible Scripture?”. The kids all did their projects which was amazing! I’m so proud of them! For completing the project, I got them all a small book to use for the meeting and ministry, giving them another project to do during the meeting to pay attention. After the meeting, they shared with each other what their notes were. I think these notebooks was a perfect gift, because there were different cute animated animals and each got a different kind.

Another big highlight was I had my very first family study with my own family. It took us many years to finally do this. But we did it. And I’m so happy.

There’s a sister in my congregation, Hermana Quinones. We’ve been trying to make service plans together for the past almost two months. So we finally got to go out together and it was a very productive morning! We both got calls that we will go back and do follow ups on together.


But the biggest accomplishment/highlight for this month was having my very first talk in Spanish. I’m so happy to have loving support afar and near! It was an awesome night, all thanks to Jehovah for his help and patience.



Barista’s note

It’s been a little over a year since I’ve been a partner at Starbucks. I get a lot of questions about my job. Like,¬†how is it being a barista? Is it hard to remember every drink? Why did you choose this job? Do you like it? Do you get tired of the drinks?¬†

I love my job. I never thought I’d work at Starbucks. I remember years ago, my sister and I joked around me working there. Little did I know, I am right now. I was actually referred from a friend that works in the company. During that time, I was looking for a job. Something with a flexible schedule so I can support my pioneering. The time I’ve been with the company, the more I have grown to love my job.

I can’t lie, the first few months starting there I was probably the most grumpiest barista ever. But I learned to work through the rude customers and improved on my customer service. I’ve always been a people person, but I never knew I could get annoyed with people until I started working there. Working at Starbucks, I come across different people with different backgrounds. With time, I have come to know my customers better. Once you think about it, a barista is actually an important role in a person’s start of the day. I’ve learned how important coffee is to some people’s lives. As a barista, I talk to hundreds even thousands people a day. Different drinks, foods, personalities. I soon remember what some customers orders are and that makes their day. I come across many people, but the customers could remember who they talk to since they may not need to talk to a lot of people compared to me. So I try to be as friendly and positive when I go to work, because a smile or laughter can make a highlight in someone’s day.

Do I get tired of coffee? No. Is it hard to remember the recipes? Sometimes. Most are basic steps.

At times, I do go home and think of my customers. Sometimes it was a mistake I made and completely flipped them off. Other times, I think of ways how I can make their next visit better.

For example, there’s this one customer who’s been at the store recently. She’s deaf. I haven’t gotten her name since it is difficult with the language barrier. But I try to communicate with her as much as I can. She enjoys her drink extra hot and one less pump of syrup. I have offered her a pen and paper to write, but she denies it. She tried to communicate through photos on her phone. Since I’ve met her, I have tried to start learning a few signs just so that the next time I meet her, I can actually communicate to her.

Then there’s this busy mom. I found out today she is a teacher at a Jewish school nearby. She always comes in the afternoon with her two young kids which are a handful. But I admire her so much for her patience with the kids. I see how hard she tries to remain calm with a smile on her face. I’ve been trying to remember her order, especially the kids. That way when she comes into the store, I immediately write them down and by the time she pays, the drinks will be ready. Saving her time to get table and setting her things down.

People think the hardest part of a barista is doing bar. I think that’s the most fun¬†part. But maybe it’s because I am the most enthusiastic person in my store and bar is my most favorite place to be compared¬†to everyone else. Because when I’m on register, there’s no way for me to stay planted.

Besides dealing with money and behind the scene things, I’d say one of the hardest things would be customer service. But that’s also the most important things we try our best to be great at: connecting with our customers.

It’s not all about the drinks.

I’ve learned so much about the different people that walk into the store. I’ve come to remember their drinks, hobbies, schedules. I’ve realized how important my role is in their life which makes me try to be better at my job each day. I love my job. And I love my customers. I’ve learned what it is to be patient. How it is to struggle. How to be flexible and adapt to your surroundings. To cooperate. Making fun of yourself and mistakes. Become better connecting with people, getting to know them more than just a customer. To still be positive while dealing with unhappy people. Each day is a new experience.

Mai Gems: December

I had a wonderful start of December! Once again, another productive month. A few of my highlights were:

  • attended my first official Spanish Assembly
  • reunited with a dear sister I haven’t seen in two years
  • reunited with a sister in the Vietnamese
  • learned how and treated to a homemade dish, Huevos Rancheros (my most favorite breakfast dish!)
  • was able to do 10+ extra hours
  • my first pile of leaves
  • started a new personal study project
  • tried learning basic sign language to speak with a deaf customer
  • had chicharron preparado
  • catching up with Rosie at our favorite spot, CrushCraft (their coconut soup is to dieeee for!)
  • treated myself with a tablet
  • got a different car with better payments

Sometimes change is good

Cliche as this is, but this year has taught me a lot.

One word that I can sum it up would be: growth. I feel like this year was a huge highlight for me¬†compared to the last past few years. A lot of different things had happened.¬†They somehow aligned with one another, building me up. I have to say, it was all thanks to Jehovah. Without the difficulties and changes, I wouldn’t be where I am right now — happy and striving.

Remembering back, I began the beginning of the year in a relationship. But it ended, all for the better. I remember it was a big hit for me. My whole life was about to change. A change that I was not ready for. I was still holding onto things that I just could not let go. I knew I needed a change. But somewhere I could grow in and not change completely and move my life somewhere.

I can’t remember everything that happened throughout this year. All I can remember is I got to attend pioneer school which was one of the biggest highlight in my life. A whole week with no work. Just spiritually, emotionally, and mentally focused in school with people who shared the same goals as I and created lifelong friendships.

I learned that I had to go through a lot of different obstacles to finally get where I needed to be with Jehovah’s help. I learned a few things¬†the hard way. Painful ways. There were months I was just completely drained, but I made it out alive. Blossoming as a result.

I learned to let go a few things — needed things. And to acceptance. It took some time and will always be a part of me, but what’s important is I remember what it taught me. It’s hard to move on, but that is life. If you are moving backwards or just being at the same place, you’re not doing it right. Of course moving forward does not mean it will always be perfect. There will be bumps down down that road. What matter is how you handle those bumps.

Do you just drive over it, ending with a damaged¬†tire? Or slow down, seeing what’s ahead and try your best to go over it?

Part of moving on does not necessarily mean you forget everything in the past. It’s good to look back¬†and understand what you¬†left behind. Some things you never have closure. But that does not mean you can’t give yourself the closure you need. And it can be scary, because then you realize things you did not before. Things you wish you knew or accepted. Still, you can only decide if it stops you from moving forward or not.¬†Because at some point, you need to let go and embrace what you have ahead.

I had to let go of some people in order to gain some. But it also made me cherish the people that I have in my life right now even more.

Spiritually, I grew a lot. And that’s a highlight I mostly can remember. I am now in this foreign field I did not expect to move into so soon. I learned a lot about myself. How eager I am to work hard for something I have a passion for. How patient I need to be with myself and other people. The value of a pioneer. Taking advantage of more opportunities, trusting Jehovah fully in it that He will take care of me. Building my faith. Mostly just using my singleness and youth to the fullest. I can’t express how happy I am and I know you’re probably so tired of seeing those words in the past recent posts, but it’s true. I am completely happy. Am I having difficulties? Of course. But I have joy in enduring.

This year was also filled with simplifying my life more. I have never had a lot of things. I can easily fit all of my clothes in two large suitcases. I do not own a lot of makeup, just a small travel size bag with everyday items. For shoes, I try to keep two for work and the rest, using it for going out, service, and meetings. And jewelry, I think I only have three necklaces and five pairs of earrings. But I mostly wear the same pair every day. I have always enjoyed keeping my life as simple as I can. Because I do have a goal of serving somewhere else if my circumstances allow in the future, it would be better to start living with only needed things right now. That way when the time does come, it won’t be hard for me to move or get rid of things.

One huge thing I got to simply are my finance. Last year I got a car that was working better than my previous one. But the monthly payments were starting to get too much for me and making it hard to save. With my Dad needing a car to use, I gave mine to him and got a used¬†car. This car is fairly older. I do miss the luxury of my old car, but with saving $200 a month in mind¬†along with taking¬†me safely to destination A to B, I cannot complain. It’s also a great car for service, enough space.

Change comes in a lot of different ways. It can be bad. But sometimes, change can be good.