4 things I learned from the book ‘Walking through Darkness’

Have you ever walked through an alley when suddenly the street lights turned off? You panicked and stopped hoping you could run as fast as you could to get through the darkness. Your imagination then turned wild and thought that people behind you meant to harm you.

In life, we may have walked through different dark alleys. As we walk, there are situations in which we would rather hope that everything will come to pass or run hurriedly and do things on our own way to finish. Cliché as it may sound, life is a journey. Every single day, we are either walking alone or walking with God and other people. As Christians, we ought to choose to journey with God and others. Every day we are also either going nearer or farther from God. We make choices daily. We are called to walk in the narrow path, pursuing the life of righteousness, as we go through and face temptations in the dark seasons of our lives.

This book helped me see a clearer perspective on how to deal when we are in these tough situations. I’ll be sharing four things that I learned from the third installment of Neil Anderson’s book.

Our goal is to develop a godly character

The world teaches us to accumulate and store up treasures on earth. Because of this we tend to focus on what we need to do or who should we become to be well acknowledged and be “successful” in life.

Just as we face crossroads, we make decisions daily. Our former small group leader often reminded us that we have to make three big decisions in life—faith, career and if we end up in marriage, our partner in life. I agree that these are major decisions in life and that we ought to seek God’s will and wisdom. We face these big milestones in our lives but we also need to make minor decisions. We decide on small things daily like what food to eat, how we budget our time, what activities to attend.

Sometimes as we seek God for His will, we wonder why He do not specify the details on where we should go. We eagerly wait for God to reveal what course we should enroll to or what job we should take. We become angry at God why He would not answer. We forget that all He wants is for us to be like Him. We envy people who seem to have it all—people with great wealth or power.

“Godly character is our goal, and it must take precedence over the gifts.”

As I read the book, I am reminded that we exist to glorify God. As we go through these milestones as well as these minor decisions, God is shaping us to be the person He wants us to be. That is success. He wants our character to be aligned to His. He wants our hearts to be drawn to Him. He wants us to submit to Him.

I am also reminded about the parable of the talents where the master gave one 10, the other 5 and the last 1 talent. God did not give us equal talents and so our self-worth is not attached to what we do nor how much we own.

 “God’s will for those who believe in Him is to be alive in Christ for the purpose of establishing His kingdom by overcoming the evil one and becoming fully the people He has called us to be.”

We may make an excuse not to decide on some matters because we reason that it isn’t the right time yet. We may also delay to do what God wants us to do because we think we know better.

It doesn’t matter where we are right now. We must choose to walk with God daily and submit to Him always. We may not reap the fruits of our labor in this life but God will surely keep His promise and reward us in the life to come. Ultimately, the best reward for our godly character is having the fruit of Spirit in our lives.

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Along the narrow road, we might slip or fall but we must choose to believe and pursue truth. Because what we believe determines what we do.

I learned that the new age movement has been leading so many people astray. This movement has been infiltrating our minds through the movies we watch, music we listen to as well as people whom we call experts.

So many times I hear meditation experts say that we have to clear our minds in order to make us feel calmer and less stressful but the Scripture says that we should not be neutral. I am sometimes drawn to think that there’s nothing wrong with this. In fact in some of the yoga classes I attended, instructors told us to do this. I felt convicted after having read the series. I learned that we either believe God or this world, which equates to believing in satan.

We should think of things that are good, pure, noble, admirable and the like (Philippians 4:8-9).

“Passively putting our minds in neutral invites spiritual disaster. We are to choose truth aggressively and actively.”

How can we pursue truth? God instructs us to read the Bible to guide our daily walk. He wants us to know the truth and not depend on our feelings. This means that we should devote time to learn about the truth and apply it in our lives. As we study about God and His Word, we are putting on the double edged sword (Ephesians 6:10-18) as a defense. As we memorize Scripture, we are equipped when satan suddenly attacks us.

“Do spiritual manifestations bypass the mind? God operates through our mind; satan bypasses it.”

I realized that we should integrate truth in our minds every minute, every day because satan is always prying to let us fall.

Darkness is part of life

I watch the stock market. As the stocks go up, they will generally go down at some point. The same is true in business. There is a business cycle for every product or service. What goes up has to go down. The law of gravity also states the same. The same is true in life. There are good and bad days. There are days when we feel that we are fulfilled. There are also days when we feel that everything is going against us.

Jesus warned us that there will be sufferings and persecutions in this life (Matthew 16:24). There will be problems. We should expect them. Darkness is part of life. We should learn how to deal with them so that when the testing comes, we do not fall. This means that we should make decisions in advance just as a soldier is preparing for battle.

I realized that these trials cannot be avoided no matter how hard we try. The author told a story about a particular experience where he was battling with the difficult situation. After some time, he sincerely asked God for solutions. The situation did not change, but when he prayed his perception regarding the situation changed. And he deemed the battle a win.

Testing increases our faith. As we face difficult situations and dark moments in our lives, there is no other choice but to put our trust in God that He will deliver us. Sometimes, God cripples us so that we may fully depend on Him. It is also in the darkness that we learn a lot. People who have experienced dark times in their lives grew a lot. They became better because they have gone through these. We can read some of them in the Bible. I personally love the story of Joseph!

“I base my life on the hope that morning comes. No matter how dark the night, morning comes. And it’s always darkest before the dawn…Never stop. No matter how dark it gets, we are to keep on walking.”

While we are experiencing a dark period in our lives, we must remember to keep walking. We should keep our faith in God that He is there even though we may not feel His presence.

It is also important to continue to walk with godly and faithful people as we go through these dark times. Just as God wants us to give encouragement to other people, we are also to receive them.

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According to Neil there are three kinds of fear aside from fear of God—fear of man, fear of death and fear of satan. If we feel fearful, we fear any of the three. Most of the time, when we cannot identify where it comes from, it is from satan.

I know that we have nothing to fear. As Christians, we should not fear anything or anyone but sometimes we are caught up with situations in which we are unprepared. We fear and think of a lot of negative things, “what ifs” and the like.

“Work out a plan of responsible behavior…Determine in advance what your response will be to any fear object.”

As I went through the book, there were some guide questions on identifying the things, people or situations we fear. I fear a lot. The list includes my fear for dogs. I get so panicky every time they come near me. I could not move or do the things that I’m supposed to do. Thankfully, I am slowly overcoming this fear.

Sometimes I get so sad thinking of all the things that needs to get done or pending projects on my list. These make me worry about tomorrow. But this truth helped me—we are accountable to God for today. God wants us to be the best version of ourselves today and cast our cares for tomorrow. We need to choose to trust God that He has a good and perfect plan for us in the future. Although that is the case, that is not a reason for us to slack off and let every circumstance dictate. We should seek God for His will for our lives—directions to take and paths to choose.

“We make plans for tomorrow in order to establish meaningful activities today.”

Fear is not from God. He knows all things, so we should not fear anything. He is trustworthy, and He will prove Himself faithful to us. Despite the darkness, we need not fear because we put our hope in Him.

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18

As we journey in life, may we always remember that our goal is to develop godly character. There will always be ups and downs but as we choose to trust in Jesus, we will be courageous even in dark times.

Let us continue to submit to God, pray and seek Him and His truth.

*All photos are taken from the internet

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20 Freeing Statements from Victory Over Darkness by Neil T. Anderson

In line with my previous post, here are 20 statements that I found very helpful. I hope to be reminded with each of these often.

statement 1 VODWhen we feel that we are powerless, let us remember that when Christ is with us, our lives will be meaningful. Christ will make us whole. He will display His glory despite our weaknesses.

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Sometimes we feel happy, sometimes sad. We also feel hard working, sometimes lazy. We are often unmotivated to continue if we have negative feelings. This makes us isolated and depressed. I realized that the key to changing how we feel is to change our behavior. Oftentimes, we will be thankful we did because we felt better.

statement 3 VOD

When we believe that we are righteous, we tend to do righteous acts. When we believe that we are sinful, we tend to commit sin. Who we think we are in relation to Christ is key in a victorious life. We should be sure that we are His so that we live according to God’s design regarding our identity.

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As a believer, God promised to give us the mind of Christ. Since the Holy Spirit is dwelling in us, we are given the power to overcome life’s trials and temptations. We are given the wisdom to act according to God’s standards. We should continually ask Him to fill us with the Spirit. We should also continually confess our sins so that we are always in tune with God’s heart.

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Knowing and owning our identity is key in our spiritual growth and maturity. We should believe in our minds and in our hearts of God’s promises to us in the Bible. We should also take action and obey what we have known.

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Because we have a sinful nature, we have a tendency to disobey yet sin is not us. It is different from us yet we are responsible for committing it.

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God commanded the Israelites a lot of stuff to be able to guide them in their journey in the desert. Most commandments pertain to worship and their relationship to others. God’s goal in setting up these rules is to make our relationship with Him and other people better.

Rules encourage us to develop a godly habit but the main goal of all these is so that we remain close to God and other people.

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Many people argue that when you become a Christian, you have to obey a lot of rules. They say it is restrictive, but the opposite is true. God laid out rules for us so that we can experience His gifts in full. For example, God forbade us to commit adultery because He wants us to experience the abundant marriage & family life that He gave. Despite giving us rules, God gave us free will. He has given us a choice to do good or bad but His spirit longs to guide us to do what is good. We should ask the Spirit to continually lead us to do what is right.

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As Christians, we are sent into the world to be channels of blessing to others. We are to make a difference as we live a set apart life, holy and pleasing to God. God wanted us to be part of His work by allowing us to influence non believers’ lives.

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God wants us to be successful in life. He wants us to live a life that is pleasing to Him. this successful life doesn’t mean we will live a materially rich life. It also does not mean we will fulfill our life’s aspirations and hopes. We may have a set of goals for ourselves in the future but it may not be the same as God intended us to do.

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Our fulfillment will not come from gaining honor, success and material wealth. It will ultimately come from serving God and other people by using the gifts that God has given us. We may not discover this yet but God will surely reveal it at the right time to equip us to do his work.

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Our vision for ourselves is important. I realized that our capacity to do things is dependent on how we perceive ourselves. When we think that we can only do this much, we tend to restrict ourselves to do small things. But when we think we can do great things, there will be so much potential in our lives. We must ultimately let God guide our identity and vision.

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There is a difference between goals and desires. We may have set goals in our lives that are supposed to be desires. Likewise, we have desires that are really God’s goals in our lives. We should assess our goals and desires. In the end, God wants us to adopt a godly character—excellent, knowledgeable, has self-control, persevering, kind and loving. This is the true measure of success that will enable us to be useful and fruitful. And that is God’s goal for our lives.

When we’re feeling defeated, angry, anxious and depressed, then we may have established a faulty goal.statement 14 VOD.png

We are satisfied when we have seen that we have done well in an organization, in projects or in the lives of other people. Doing well takes time. It is not supposed to be a short-term project. Dedicating our lives to the tasks that God calls us to do is for the long term.

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We cannot control our emotions but we can control our thoughts. Therefore we need to watch out for the things that enter our mind. Let us guard it so that our minds are captivated only by Christ.

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When other people open up to us, we do not comfort them using words. We empathize with them. We show them that we care for them and that we are there with them in the midst of the trials they face.

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God wants us to develop our character. Sometimes He rebukes us through His Word but sometimes He uses other people. When we are open to criticisms, we may have the opportunity to open closed hearts. We should seek God’s guidance on how to respond well so that we won’t miss it.

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God created us so that we can be His company. He also created us to have free will. As we go on in life, He longs for us to be more and more like Him. He also longs for us to be united.

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We may know the truth because we are more mature than other people but it is not our duty to judge others. God wants us to love them despite their being unlovable.

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God doesn’t spare His children from trials in this life. Despite that fact, He turns our trials into something good. When we see people in the midst of a painful event, we should give them comfort. We should also not be afraid to ask for encouragement from others.

 

Reflections on Victory over Darkness

Our mind is a battlefield. Do you agree? Every day it is a battle between thinking about positive or negative, good or bad. The moment we wake up, we can either be thankful or grudge and complain. And the moment we win in our minds, we became victorious in our daily walk with the Lord and with other people.

I can still remember a conversation with a friend. I confessed that I am battling with self doubts and issues on my head. I don’t really make a big deal out of it because I am a self-confessed pessimist. I shared that I worry a lot about the future whether I will be “successful” in life. She rebuked me that these negative things are Satan’s own doing and that I might live in bondage because of this.  I was shocked. I know that Satan wants us to be led astray from God and that these negative thoughts are from him. However, I did not make a big deal out of it.

I realized that I kept on delaying this confrontation. I do not want to deal with these thoughts! I kept on burying them until they became big enough.

While browsing a pile of books, I stumbled upon this book called Victory over Darkness by Neil T. Anderson from our bookshelf. I remembered my friend suggested me to read the sequel of this book. It was so timely!

Also, this year God has been telling me to be more courageous. I realized that I am afraid of a lot of things. I want to overcome them little by little trusting that God is with me.

Here are the things that I learned and been reminded from reading the book. I hope you can pick that book too! For the meantime, I hope these learnings can help you.

The battle has already been won. God has won the battle. What does it mean? I mentioned earlier that our mind is a battlefield. There is a constant tug of war between the good and the bad. But that is because we live in a sinful world. God has overcome the world by dying on the cross once and for all to die for our sins. He has paid the price so that we can be finally free.

Neil listed several statements attesting to this. I selected only several of these that are related to my point.

  • I have been justified–completely forgiven and made righteous (Romans 5:1)
  • I died with Christ and died to the power of sin’s rule over my life (Romans 6:1-6)
  • I am free forever from condemnation (Romans 8:1)
  • I have received the Spirit of God into my life that I might know the things freely given to me by God (1 Corinthians 2:12)

God has already won the battle, so we should not worry about the future. Everything is in His hands.

God says a lot about our identity and we must claim each one of them. God mentioned a lot about us in His Book, but the problem is that we do not know them by heart. We are not as powerful as we ought to be. God gave us a Spirit so that we can be victorious. The author further explained that the reason why many of those who believe in Christ feel defeated is because we think we are still living in sin. We think that way because our past has shaped how we think today.

“Your mind must be transformed in order for you to grow spiritually…You are already a whole person and possess a life of infinite meaning and purpose because of who you are—a child of God.”

We need to claim our identity in Christ.

“Satan has no authority over you, even though he will try to deceive you into believing that he has. Because of your position in Christ, you have authority over him. It is part of your identity.”

Satan distracts our minds. If God has won the battle, why do I still experience defeat and sin in my life? We may ask this a couple of times. We may wonder why we cannot make anything right. It is because Satan is constantly attacking us by tempting us to disobey God. Satan wants us to give in to our flesh and worldly desires. He distracts us by making us busy reaching our earthly goals, dreams and aspirations.

“The white dog symbolizes our new life in Christ or the Spirit. The black dog symbolizes our sinful nature. The dog you feed the most eventually grow stronger and overpower the other.”

“Satan’s deception concerning your identity is his major weapon against your growth and maturity in Christ”

We live in bondage because we are afraid to admit. Satan knows our weaknesses. He knows where to tempt us. We become vulnerable to sin because we let our guards down. We allow sin to entangle our lives by continually allowing negative patterns of thought into our minds.

The key here is to admit that we cannot win on our own. We must be dependent upon God, His Word and His power. We are to expose to Him whatever that is in our hearts. God wants us to be sincere and true. We can also share this struggle to trusted people who can help us overcome.

Take every thought captive in obedience to Christ. God commands us to submit each of our thoughts to Him. Temptations start from the mind. God wants to protect us from the devil by submitting to Him. The author explained further that the moment a thought enters our mind, we should immediately assess whether it is good or bad.

Here is a helpful list of steps mentioned in the book:

“In order to win the battle for your mind, you need a strategy. Expose the lie and you win the battle.”

  • Transform by renewing your mind (read the truth)
  • Prepare our minds for action
  • Take every thought captive in obedience to Christ
  • Pray

 

“Knowing the nature of God and His ways will help you discern deceiving spirits. If the little voice inside you is pushing you to act impulsively, luring you into temptation or accusing you relentlessly, it is not the voice of God.”

Admitting negative thoughts and feelings takes courage. I thank God for allowing me to deal mine. Everyday is a work in progress. Whenever I think of dreadful things, I acknowledge my new identity in Christ and say that I may not be the person that I see myself to be, just not yet. But as I go along, I will be.

 All photos are taken on the internet. 

 

 

 

Takeaways: Making your emotions work by Harold Sala

“In God’s design, emotions were meant to help us process life in a positive manner.”

God gave us emotions to affect our lives positively. Feelings of joy and love deepen our relationship with Him and other people. These are God’s gifts to us. How wonderful will it be if only we will express emotions in the correct manner—always bringing the best in other people. But we know that the opposite is often true. Most of the time we express emotions based on what we are “feeling”. Sometimes we feel happy because we outsmarted our parents. Sometimes we feel angry because our neighbor parked his car in our parking lot. Sometimes we feel sad without a reason.

God also gave us different personalities. Some are generally cheerful, talkative and can fully express their emotions in public. Some are generally quiet and reserved. Different people with different personalities process emotions differently so when it is good for other people it might not be okay to some. Despite these differences, I believe that God called us to be Spirit filled always. Being Spirit filled means that we choose to bear the fruit of the Spirit regardless of what we feel.

I am a feeler. Most of the time I decide based on what I feel to do. It is difficult to do the tasks when I am “not in the mood” to do it. I envy Joy Tanchi’s mom. She kept mentioning her joyful attitude despite being in bad situations. This led me into the conclusion that being Spirit filled rules out our natural personality tendencies. So there is hope for me and for all who is feeling the same way. After reading Harold Sala’s book on Making your emotions work, this truth is further discussed.

“The greatest struggles in life are not fought on the battlefields of the world; they are fought in human hearts as we struggle with issues such as frustration, stress, lack of self-confidence, fear, feelings of inadequacy and inferiority, and the inability to cope with circumstances that are not to our liking.”

Here are my takeaways.

We can control our emotions. Just like our mind and our body, our emotions can be trained. God made us capable of doing it by completely entrusting our emotions to Him. It is quite counter intuitive. When we ask Him to control us—our thoughts, our emotions, our minds and our actions will follow.

The fact of knowing that we can control our emotions is liberating. We should not allow our emotions to control us or even the devil who likes to prowl against us.

“Emotions are not designed to control our lives, but to draw our attention to life.”

 

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Taken from seenthelifeivehad.tumblr.com

We need to learn more about ourselves. As I’ve mentioned in my previous articles, it will take time to discover even our own likes, dislikes etc. In light of this book, we need to know what makes us feel happy, cheerful, frustrated, stressed, fearful, worried and other emotions.

“The more you know about what makes you tick, the more you will be in control of your life.”

I also learned that we need to be content with ourselves. We need to be happy in a sense that we ought to be grateful to God for giving us the life that we have. As we begin to study ourselves, we will learn our unlovable aspects not just physically but also attitude wise. These truths can hurt us and make us feel ashamed and sometimes question God the faults that we see. God commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves so we must love ourselves in a humble manner. When we truly love ourselves, we will have the capacity to love and accept other people.

“Your ability to love is vitally affected by the way you think about yourself…If you don’t develop a humble measure of love for yourself, you will never be very successful in loving anyone else.”

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Taken from Houseofhicks.com

Trust God with our character issues. Loving oneself involves dealing with insecurities, worry and feelings of worthlessness. The moment bad thoughts come into our minds, they affect our emotions. The devil likes to attack us in such manner so that God’s work will not progress. When we struggle with such feelings, let us ask, are these feelings from God? The moment these thoughts come into mind, let us always be alert. Pray and ask the Spirit to fill us with His Spirit.

“The longer you live with negative situations and emotions, the more comfortable you become with them, and the more effectively they ensnare you…When you really understand that God will accept you on the basis of what Christ did, you don’t have to prove to the world how important you really are.”

As we trust God with our character issues, He will show us Himself. When we admit our dependence on God, our nothingness results to God’s power in full. When we are nothing, Christ is everything. And His faithfulness will prove Himself true to us. Let us trust God with our character issues and He will continue the good work that He began in us.

“Choose the word ‘becoming’. When we use the word ‘because’ we blame God. We have a hope that we will change for the better.”

leanne rose photography
Taken from Leanne Rose Photography

Praying is trusting. As mentioned in my previous point, we need to ask the Spirit to fill us. As we pray, we need to be open to God about what we feel. We must admit what we feel whether we are angry or sad. It doesn’t matter. Our openness to God may not change things, but it can change our attitude towards the things that are unchangeable. When we express what we feel, we are entrusting to God that we are helpless on our own.

“When you pray just open your heart and let the feelings flow out.”

After we admit the way we feel, let us ask God to change the way we feel. Harold Sala suggested a prayer pattern that we can imitate.

“Lord, You have come into my life and my heart, but now I want to go one step further. I invite you to invade my emotions as well. I yield them to the control of Your Holy Spirit. Help me to use them in such a way that I glorify You and rejoice in how you created me.”

And trust God that He will deliver you.

Our emotions affect other people. We may not be aware of how our feelings affect other people. Sometimes a mere stranger’s reaction can make us feel happy or sad. In recent years, there has been a rising use of social media. On Facebook, there are some netizens that put comments carelessly without knowing the back story of a photo. This results to people who are hurt behind the screen.

Forgiving is difficult. But God commands us also to forgive! It means giving up our right to hurt others in return. We put this hurt into God’s hands asking Him to handle it. Forgiving means we refuse to become bitter and angry over the things that we cannot control.

“Forgiveness is first a matter of the will, then a matter of the emotions.”

We can also affect others by the mere fact of worrying or being fearful. We need to be conscious of what we bring about to other people.

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Taken from Leanne Rose Photography

Let us strive to influence others in a positive manner as we ask the Spirit to fill us with a Spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

In conclusion, I realized that we can make our emotions work. To make it happen, we need to do a lot of hard work too! We need to learn more about ourselves, trust God and learn how we can influence others in a positive manner.

And as we strive to make our emotions work, we make a difference in this world.

 

Field trip: Ong Pin, Binondo, Manila Chinatown (Part 1)

Manila Chinatown is known for a place where you can find everything at bargain prices. Similar and competing stores are lined beside each other.

Every time I go there with my dad or aunt, I would be amazed on how they do things–walk briskly on crowded roads, carry heavy loads in one go and sell variety of goods.

On my previous two succeeding visits, I decided to do a photowalk. I hope you’ll enjoy the photos! I used my Nikon camera and tried the toy camera effect.

Fruit stands and red lanterns

Ong pin at noon

Cherries

A lady walking in the middle of the day

Paper money, the design is A+

A corner of the narrow road

Menu of President restaurant

Fried Frog legs for lunch

Ducks and other meat on display

Chinese characters written on the wall

Lantern glowing

Rolled Chinese newspaper

Mirror in between shelves

Colorful vase