Thursday, July 30, 2009

We are house free!!!

In less than an hour from the time I am writing this, we anticipate... at long last... to be house free. Our house was for sale nearly one year, standing empty... but still consuming a mortgage and utility bills... for a full seven months of that year. Tonight (tomorrow morning in the USA) the sale will be official, the papers signed.

In Cantonese class one of my fellow students talked about hoping to buy a "home"(ngukkei). Our teacher corrected him. In the Cantonese language you cannot say that you are buying or selling a home, only a house (nguk).

Despite the fact that we loved our home in Wisconsin... despite the hours of labor my husband spent on the basement, the boys spent helping create that extra bathroom... despite even the gorgeous new kitchen (probably the only new kitchen of my life) with the new oven that really did turn out the best chocolate chip cookies ever... despite the deck where we caught the late night breezes, and saw the occasional deer in the woods... despite the herb garden and the asparagus, despite the bluebirds and the sunflowers, despite the graduation parties and the late night dinners we concocted with friends over a bottle of wine (or two)...

It's just a house. And we're SO very glad it's (hopefully by the time most of you read this) sold. Now our home is here where we live and work and cook dinners in Hong Kong, and soon we plan to buy my mom's old house in Door County, to serve as our home when we are in the States.

"Those who love me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them."
-- Jesus, according to John 14:23

Friday, July 24, 2009


(photo courtesy of E.Z. Nieminen)

We wouldn't have known about the biggest eclipse of our lifetime if Robert, our Philippino neighbor (and property caretaker) hadn't rung our doorbell and told us to come out.

I was busy preparing for work ("H" is for hat... I was folding ten hats out of newspapers for the ten little two year olds of my morning class) and Wayne was adjusting his backpack for his daily walk up the hill to the seminary, where new international students have just arrived.

Youngest son was, of course, still sleeping. He's a teenager, and it's summertime.

So we woke up the kid, dropped what we were doing, and spent about half an hour taking turns looking at the sky through the welding mask that Robert had helpfully provided us.

After that it was pretty much a day as usual, but the cosmic perspective of the morning's skywatch lingered.

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands... in the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course." -- from a Psalm of David (Psalm 19)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Ups, Downs, and Typhoons

We were so happy to pick our youngest son up from the airport where he had successfully navigated the multi-legged trip to Wisconsin and back to Hong Kong. Not bad for a 16 year old.

We gave him one whole day of rest then signed him up to go with Wayne for an overnight camping adventure with Inner City Ministries. Since he will be teaching a course about Youth & Family Counseling this fall, Wayne thought it would be good to get some hands on experience with the ministries already in place here in Hong Kong. This particular event was with youth whose families are immigrants to Hong Kong from Nepal.

Do you notice anything funny about the way Wayne is holding his arm in picture #2? After falling hard during one of the first activities, he soldiered on for several more hours until everyone convinced him it might be good to go see a doctor.

Yes, indeed, the arm is broken.

We also experienced our first typhoon winds just last night. I slept through it but for some reason (!) Wayne was awake and heard the winds roaring and tree branches falling around us.

In the morning, the city sweepers were already hard at work cleaning up the debris. Typhoons seem to be just part of the standard summer experiences here in Hong Kong.

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

--Paul in his First Letter to the Corinthians 15:58 (Today's New International Version)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Listening in Prison

I go to prison in Hong Kong
once a month for Bible study & small group discussion with a group of English speaking inmates. Our small group includes guys (the inmates are all men) from Australia, Africa, and South America as well as one or two from Asia, so even in prison we have an amazingly intercultural experience.

This week the topic was "holy promptings" and I made the mistake of asking if people had ever had a holy prompting through a dream, which led Kenny, one of the Australians, to launch into a loooong complicated & detailed account of a dream he had had recently. I felt rather impatient with Kenny, and looked around for signs from the others to cut him off. But nobody intervened, everyone listened politely, Africans, South Americans, Australians, Asians alike.

Then I remembered what we had been told during our prison ministry training: Many of these guys have no one to talk with, no one to listen to them, no one to pay attention to them as an individual. What's more important, getting through a "lesson plan" or allowing this guy, for yes probably all of 7 or 8 minutes, to tell his story, of his dream? And then I thought about how the God of the universe loves Kenny so much, and loves me too, that he sent his Son to spend his whole life on us.

I'm not sure if Kenny hears from God through his dreams, but I do know that I got to hear from God by watching how all these "hardened criminals" from four different continents gave Kenny their undivided attention.

1:15-16 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all his people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. (Paul, writing from prison, Ephesians, chapter 1)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Macau Meanderings

For those who may not know, Macau is a big gambling hotspot, located on an island about an hour away from Hong Kong by ferry. Macau surpassed Las Vegas a few years ago in total gambling revenues, and boasts the largest casino in the world (the Venetian Hotel & Casino complex, which is also the third largest single building of any type in the world). For you car race fans, Macaus hosts the Macau Grand Prix in the fall (November 16-19 this year in case you want to come see it).

When Wayne & I visited, we had a wonderful time, mostly outside of the casinos and definitely outside of our couple of small attempts at gambling. Check out my slides:

Macau Meanderings

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Snails, slugs and frogs

It's perfect weather for snails, slugs and frogs here in Hong Kong. An occasional giant cockroach completes a snorkeling expedition by crawling up the drain to explore the dining possibilities of our shower stall. Wooden spoons in the kitchen and wooden doors to our bedroom sport new jackets of greenish mold.

We carry umbrellas wherever we go. Many, many people flee Hong Kong for the summer. Even at night, the temperatures rarely go below 80. Three showers a day have now become the norm.

Wayne makes the daily climb up Tao Fung Shan road to the seminary, to meet with students and prepare classes in Youth & Family Counseling for the fall. His students continue to be a delight, eager to learn, to be equipped for leading and counseling and teaching God's people throughout Asia.

I supplement our income... and our understanding of Asian families & culture, with my Hoppy Palace Phonics work. The games which the center provides are all laminated paper. I supplement with real ants to see (a-a-ant begins with A), real hard-boiled eggs to touch(e-e-egg begins with E) and real actions to take (j-j-jump and j-j-jiggle)

Which is what I still do when I see a giant frog on the doorstep, or a crawling cockroach on the wall.