Monday, August 3, 2009

Summer nights, pizza, and the bishop's wife

For weeks now the temperatures haven't gone below the 80's F. (28 or so Celsius) even at night and yesterday we reached 99 F. with about 95% humidity. For some reason I thought August might be better than July but au contraire.

In the evenings we shut the windows (there is rarely a breeze to speak of) and turn on the air-conditioner (we tried going without it but found that our crankiness with each other was in direct proportion to the heat of the day. With the air-conditioner on, we like each other again :)

And with the more flexible summer schedule, we've been having more people over in the evenings for Wayne's Wonderful pizza! This photo is from Sunday night when we had our Bishop over with his beautiful family.

The previous night we had invited three students from the mainland of China. I won't show you their pictures because two of these students (a married couple) aren't "supposed" to be studying Christianity. They told amazing stories of their lives and the lives of their parents and grandparents, living through years of the persecution of educated people and the hardships... and joys of being believers in Christ's Way in China.

Among other things, I was sad to be reminded of the fact that young people such as these are only allowed (by law!) to have one child. How rich Wayne and I are, to have three sons, even if two of them are far away!

The third of our guests, "Esther", told how her family faced years of hardship because her family had adopted a second child. If I understood correctly, for years this adopted younger brother was not allowed to go to school or receive regular medical care because as an "illegal second child" he was a "non-person" in China. Last year, however, he received his official identity card . "What a wonderful feeling that was" exclaimed his big sister, "I went to chapel and just thanked God that day when I found out my little brother is recognized as a real person and can now go to school like any other child."

Esther's parents are not particularly pleased that their eldest daughter is studying for the Christian ministry, but in their love for her, seeing her happiness, they are supportive of her decision, even though there may be ramifications for Esther's father in his own job. Officials still often look with suspicion upon family members of avowed Christians. "Will your daughter devote herself to this Christian Church?" an official may ask, using the same verb in Chinese as the verb that is used to express what a citizen's attitude is supposed to be toward the Chinese state: devotion.

Esther is the first in her family to become a Christian, and is looking forward to the day when her family members are also ready to embrace the good news of Jesus.

When the Bishop came, we found out from his wife that she is a first generation Christian as well, and her father had just become a Christian a year ago. How beautiful to see the smile on her face as she told us the story of her father's coming to faith.

Wayne and I sometimes feel like we are getting to see and hear first-hand, as the Book of Acts unfolds around us in new ways, in Hong Kong and China.

"I will pour out my Spirit on all people, Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy."
-- God quoted in Acts 2:17f

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