All photos in this post are credited to A.
That’s what my third full day in California consisted of. After a quick stop at the pharmacy for some medication, A and I took ourselves off to church first thing on a drizzly Sunday morning. She had been under the weather for a few days and had spent the night before almost coughing up a lung, so our first order of business was to try to get her some relief treatment until she could see her doctor on Monday. Still, because she knew how much I had been looking forward to attending church as much as possible during JEXIT, she insisted that she was feeling well enough that we could go anyway.
I selected the church we attended based on a Google search of churches in the area where A lives, as well as her knowledge of the church’s location. We arrived about 15 minutes early so we had a few minutes to look around a little bit before the service started. Funny enough, the pastor’s sermon was based on exactly the same passage as the sermon I had heard in Singapore one week before – Luke 2:8-18. I don’t think this was a coincidence and I opened my ears extra wide to listen to the message. Whereas the Singapore pastor spent a lot of time on the historical context of the situation, the California pastor focused more on how the shepherds in the story were the bottom of the Jews’ societal barrel but still they were one of the first groups that God decided to engage with after 400 years of silence.
The only thing I didn’t like about this church was that their praise and worship section was more like a concert than a corporate experience. The band sang songs that nobody in the congregation knew so we couldn’t really participate and it felt more like a performance. Although I’m sure they didn’t mean it to, it felt exclusionary to me and didn’t help to prepare me for the rest of the service, which all told only lasted for about an hour (this may have been the shortest church service I’ve ever been to). Even so, I still felt blessed by my attendance there, if only because I haven’t been to church all year!
After church, we went for breakfast at a restaurant and I got to check pancakes off my food list. Although it wasn’t my favourite pancake place (that honour will always belong to IHOP), they were pretty good. Still, I’ll try to hit up an IHOP before JEXIT is over.
We left breakfast and headed to a coffee shop for our daily dose. I got a salted caramel latte to go and we headed back home so A could medicate and rest. She spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing and I spent it writing.
In the evening, we went out to dinner with her family again, this time in honour of her sister’s birthday, which had passed the week before I arrived. I had Taiwanese lamb hot pot for the first time. It’s basically a lot of food in a broth that you can have at various levels of spiciness. I had mine mild.
The hot pot was literally served in a pot that is hot, as it was served over a small portable burner that stayed lit until the server offered to put out the flame about halfway through the meal. I had mine with vermicelli.
Our last stop of the day was the Festival of Lights nearby town. Basically, some buildings in a couple of streets get really done up with lights for the Christmas season. The roads are closed off and families and friends park their cars and walk around, the children eating snacks from street vendors and everyone taking pictures of the lights. There are also rides in lighted horse-drawn Cinderella carriages.
Back in Singapore, I had really wanted to see Christmas On A Great Street because, like everything else that Singapore does, I expected that it would be spectacular. Unfortunately, I missed going because of scheduling conflicts within the Jamaican pilot’s family. Although I didn’t see it, I truly believe that it would have been miles beyond the Riverside festival. However, A and I made more memories together and that was more than enough for me.
Overall, Sunday was another lovely day. The only downside was that A didn’t feel well all day. Even so, the rainy weather (yay!), the food (yay!) and the company (yay!) were all I needed to make the day wonderful. JEXIT is still batting a thousand.