Monday, June 29, 2009

Empty Nest, Red Eggs, Truth Church

On Sunday after sending our youngest son off to the airport for his trip back to the USA, I went, for the first time, to the Hong Kong church I have been asked to help serve. After the service, there were red eggs for all! What is this about?

A symbol of joy and blessing in Chinese culture, red dyed eggs are handed out one month after a baby is born.

So as our own nest empties out (well, for two weeks,anyway) I was blessed with this symbol of new life and joy.

Ma On Shan Truth Lutheran Church and School... I'm so excited about the new life and discoveries ahead of us here.

"Go, stand
in the temple courts,"

[the angel] said,
"and tell the people
all about
this new life."
-- Acts 5:20

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Graphic dangers

This picture rather nicely captures the feeling in my stomach as I think about our youngest son traveling alone. Ok, he's all of sixteen years old (as of last week) but does that mean he can safely negotiate the flight from Hong Kong to Japan to Detroit to Chicago??? And back again???

It didn't help that when we called our oldest son in Wisconsin today, his voice was a little bit shaky because he had just witnessed an accident right in front of his house - a car had hit someone on a bicycle. A medical person on the scene could not find a pulse, and our son said there was blood everywhere.

Life is so fragile.

I sent oldest son a check to buy himself a good bike helmet. It's not enough, but it's something.

We'll be getting up at 4:30 in the morning in order to see youngest son off to the airport, and we have a delegation of family members who have promised to pick him up on the other side of the world. I think he will be ok.

29 With your help I can advance against a troop ;
with my God I can scale a wall.

30 As for God, his way is perfect;
the word of the LORD is flawless.
He is a shield
for all who take refuge in him.

Psalm 18:29-30

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Hiking the Sai Kung Peninsula

Wayne's deepest desire for Father's Day was to take a long hike out to Tai Long Wan (Big Wave Bay) on a hot 92 degree 92% humidity day. After a slight mishap early on (Yours truly twisted her ankle... first sprained ankle of my life!) we nevertheless soldiered on, taking two buses, a taxi, and finally walking a mere 45 minute trail with spectacular views, down to one of the beaches of the Sai Kung Peninsula. Next time we'll get started earlier and try for that longer (2 and a half hour) hike to what is reputed to be the most spectacular beach in all of Hong Kong.

In their hearts human beings plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.
-- Proverbs 16:9

Friday, June 19, 2009

Good News!

The kid turned sweet sixteen this week. Most of our international friends and acquaintances have fled the 90+ temperatures and 90+ humidity of the Hong Kong summers for the friendlier summer climates of Europe, Canada, the U.S., and Japan.
So it was just us, and our immediate neighbors to serenade the boy. Does he look utterly thrilled, or what?

Thick gooey homemade brownies, ice cream, a US$10 can of whipped cream (yes, VERY expensive here) and the celebration was complete.


Life is good.

"Rejoice with those who rejoice!" -- Romans 12:15

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Another Pizza Night in Hong Kong

Last Thursday night was another pizza night in our household, with Joseph & his wife Makara and their two boys, who had flown in from Cambodia to Hong Kong for his graduation. For the three travelers, it was their first time ever in an airplane, and the kids were duly impressed by the colossal skyscrapers of Hong Kong. For two long years.... let me repeat that, two loooooong years Joseph's wife had managed their household back home. For two long years, "Daddy" was just a voice on the telephone for their two boys, the older (10) looking serious and somber, the younger, (4) full of mischief, doing somersaults and cartwheels in our little living room.

We found out that Joseph and Makara are each first generation Christians. Makara was first to the faith! She spent some years in an orphanage, and the kindness of the Christians who came and visited made her want to find out more about this Jesus. When she heard that Jesus had willingly died for his friends, she found that such a radical idea, that she believed in him as the Lord of Life, and began to share that story of hope with others... including the man who was to become her husband -- Joseph!

Now, through Joseph's advanced training at the Lutheran Theological Seminary of Hong Kong, he will be better equipped to lead Christian churches in Cambodia, including showing love and hospitality to Buddhist students who come in from the countryside to study at universities in the city. Joseph's vision includes the desire that future political, business, and educational leaders of his country might have first-hand experience of the love of Christ for them and their people.

Keep on caring for each other as the Lord's followers should. Be sure to welcome strangers into your home. By doing this, some people have welcomed angels as guests, without even knowing it. -- from The Letter to the Hebrews 13:1-2

More masks

I believe we are on the brink of finally selling our house back in the USA, and I'm trying to keep a healthy perspective, but it isn't easy. We've been waiting for the guy who's made a verbal offer to actually get it into the legal written form. It was supposed to be Friday, then Saturday, and now the latest word is... Monday morning...

So it's good that Saturday was busy... another trip to prison for our monthly Bible study there. Once again we had to wear those confounded masks. Angel was eager to hear how my month had gone. "I prayed for you every single day," he said. And I totally believe him.

Saturday afternoon was another "Hoppy Palace" day (my crazy supplemental job, teaching English phonics to Chinese babies and children). In case you haven't heard, the nursery & elementary schools in Hong Kong have been asked to close for two weeks because of the H1N1 flu concerns, but this doesn't seem to apply to after-school programs, so it was a busy busy afternoon. Singing "If You're Happy and You Know It" with a mask on is a very special challenge, especially when you're singing and jumping and clapping as you do so.

Let me tell you, the shower when I finally got home felt better than great.

When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, you cannot discover anything about your future.
-- the Old Man Preacher of Ecclesiastes 7:14

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

This is a week of saying goodbyes.

--The seminary professors sing a farewell blessing to the Lutheran Theological Seminary graduates (can you find Wayne?) Also in the photos: ELCA missionary professors Ted Zimmerman and John LeMond and much loved ELCA retired seminary professor, seminary president, pastor, and now volunteer professor (an inspiration to us all) Jerry Schmalenberger.
-- Thida will be returning to Myanmar to play a lead role in the Christian formation of families, youth and children, especially through Sunday School ministries.
-- Katrina & Ryan, our wonderful ELCA neighbors spent two years teaching intensive English studies to international students and just packed up their bags... and their cat (!) to return to the USA, where they will be attending Princeton Seminary.

"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: ...a time to keep, and a time to send away..." --the wise old preacher of Ecclesiastes 3

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Bugs for school

A couple of weeks ago we scrambled to find bugs for our son's science project.

was supposed to bring 3 of them in for Biology. He found some small ones, put them in plastic containers, and left them outside (for an adolescent boy who usually makes fun of his mother's squeamishness, he's surprisingly concerned about the idea of them getting loose in his backpack). Next morning -- plastic containers are gone!! Did somebody pick them up thinking they were trash? Then we saw chewed up plastic containers in the yard. The dogs had gotten the bugs! (I told him this was his perfect opportunity to tell a teacher that "the dog ate my homework" but he was not amused)

The next night we both went on the hunt. It was surprisingly difficult to find anything. He got an ant and a mosquito. There we were, both of us hunting in the dark with flashlights
looking for bug #3 (couldn't he have done this during daylight hours???) I find a huge slug. Will a slug work? No, I guess not. Finally, we locate a slim beetle with enormous antennae crawling on a window. We bring it inside. Son claims the jar lid is too loose, he needs to transfer it into a more secure jar (there's that fear of bugs crawling in his back pack again). I tell Husband it's his turn to help by engineering the transfer of the bug. I return to my office computer, and next thing I hear is, "It flies! I didn't know it could fly!", and yes, the bug had escaped to the top of our 14 foot ceiling. Much running around, turning lights on and off, squinting to track flight patterns... and after procuring a ladder from a neighbor... son recaptures the bug and puts it safely into its new home, or should I say morgue, as I understand it was to be gassed and dissected.

Not sure if one would consider this a happy or a sad ending to the story.


This week another innocent bug got captured for my Hoppy Palace Baby Phonics course. "A" is for a-a-ant. Five little two year olds peered intently at the amiable creature in the jar, who actually seemed to be waving his antennae at them (antennae! another a-a-a word! The two year olds were not impressed until I showed them how to make antennae with their fingers on their heads. Then they giggled.) I had best intentions of letting my ant loose again after my Saturday class... little suspecting that the building management would spray for bugs on Friday night, so on Saturday morning I found the little guy with all six legs pointing straight up at the s-s-sky.

I used an apple for my prop, instead.


Go to the ant, you sluggard;
consider its ways and be wise!It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.
-- Proverbs 6:6-8

Monday, June 1, 2009

Pentecost & the languages of love

Hong Kong Languages of Love Pentecost 2009 Hong Kong Languages of Love Pentecost 2009 pastorchrista209

Acts 2:6 Each one heard them speaking in his own language...

Acts 2:7-8 Utterly amazed, they asked, "How is it that each of us his own native language?"
Acts 2: 11 " -- we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!"


On Pentecost Sunday I preached for the first time since arriving in Hong Kong.

I spoke on the languages of love, and the many different languages the Spirit uses to speak first to us, then through us, the many members of the Church of Jesus Christ...

I used an old Dave Watry mission story, from when he and Jude lived in Russia for a year. Their first week there, they went to the market to buy some eggs for breakfast. Not knowing the word for "egg" in Russian, Dave acted out what he thought was a pretty fine imitation of a chicken laying an egg. The lady in the market stall nodded earnestly, turned to rummage through the boxes in the back of her market stall, and turned around again to hand Dave... a roll of toilet paper.

Ah yes, the languages we use.

The languages of love include these classic five: Time, Gifts, Words, Practical Help, Touch, to which I would add a few more such as color, art, food, music... you probably can think of more. Anyway, check out the short slide show (above) for the languages I've heard lately.