Sunday, September 27, 2009

Wayne's World - Teaching at LTS

From Wayne's World:

The Fall semester has begun and I continue to immensely enjoy teaching at LTS (Lutheran Theological Seminary) of Hong Kong!   This semester I’m teaching a course on youth counseling and a basic introduction to that I’ve never really taught before and have to really prepare to make sure I, at least, know what I’m talking about!  I’m continually amazed by the students, their stories and histories and the importance of their work not only here in Hong Kong, but throughout all of Southeast Asia.  I am honored to be a part of this kingdom of God movement!

Yesterday, I was in a weekly meeting with one of my students from a certain Asian country and he was describing to me the incredibly difficulties of his community… when he showed me a website of a group whose mission is "to bring help, hope and love to people in war zones..."

As we were exploring the site, something caught his eye…..he saw a notice that his good friend, a young man working with this group had just recently died because of a sudden fever.   This was a terrible shock…and my student just broke down and wept. This friend had guided my student through the land-mine laden countryside as he went to minister to churches and their leaders in this region.   

My student wants to return to his home country… after learning how to best care for and counsel those who live in fear of terror each day.   Again, it’s an incredible honor to be here.

"Share with the Lord's people who are in need.Practice hospitality.   
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn."
                                 -- Paul in Romans 12:12-15

Friday, September 18, 2009

O is for Octopus

 I just got back from one of the most challenging events of my life as a pastor... I was asked to lead the first session of a school assembly which included an Intro to Christianity for the 150 first thru sixth graders at the Lutheran Primary School.  As I've mentioned before, a good portion of the kids almost certainly know nothing whatsoever about this "Christianity" stuff, so I am acutely aware of an incredible opportunity... and an incredible responsibility.

Good thing that I know it's the Holy Spirit's job to stir up faith, not mine!!  I'm also working with the most incredible group of great teachers at the school.  Pictured above is "Teacher Nelly" one of MaOnShan Lutheran School angels.

Then I got to teach 18 1st graders the letter "Hh" and help them make name tags.  I was going to take pictures of them with their name tags so I could study them (I am so terrible at names, always have been)  but we got too sidetracked with writing and decorating those name tags so we never got around to either the photos or the "If you're Happy and You Know it" song I was going to teach them. (You know, "h" is for "happy"!)

Then we made potato head octopuses with the 16 2nd graders (they are doing the letter "Oo")  a craft I designed myself, I'm quite proud to say.

It was a blast but I'm so tired I feel like I've been run over by a truck...  

Sunday, September 13, 2009

In the beginning God created...

My question to myself is... 

What, did you think you were going to teach the whole concept of God the Creator in one 35 minute session each with first and second graders? Ha!

But a beginning was made!

With the incredibly kind help of their "real" teachers, the first and second grade teachers who translated for me, a beginning was made.

Some of the children had (almost certainly) never seen a Bible before, and the pictures in the Children's Bible I used were too small for the classes of 15 & 18 kids to see.

 Tossing a koosh ball to try and get them to introduce themselves in English produced mass chaos (apparently tossing balls isn't a very usual mode of instruction!) And they don't yet understand basic English classroom instructions such as "repeat after me."

But they did enjoy picking out and identifying the plastic animals I  brought along, and the bug stickers I gave out as rewards seemed to be a hit.

The first graders really seemed to jam to the "God Made the World" song with motions but the 2nd graders may have thought it too childish for them. 

What do they make of the word "God"?  What do they make of this weird "Western foreign lady" with her bags of books, animal props, and song CD's?

I've heard that nearly half of the children commute everyday from the mainland.  Their parents make sacrifices so that their one child (nearly all are only children) can have the best education possible.

Seeing them sing "God made me" brought tears to my eyes as I thought about the adventure of life... and hopefully faith... which they are just beginning to explore.  

I'm incredibly privileged to be part of it all.

"God saw all that he had made, and it was very good."  -- Genesis 1:31

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

First Day of Teaching Primary School Tomorrow!

Tomorrow is my first day with the Lutheran Primary School first and second graders!

Since I was sick last week, I popped in this week to see the school in action.  I was too shy to take pictures of the kids themselves (yet) so I took a picture of some of their art work instead!

So tomorrow I inaugurate "Fabulous Fridays".  I will spend 35 minutes with each grade teaching some combination of the Christian faith with English grammar, to 6 & 7 year old children who may know next to nothing about either one!

What story would YOU start out with?

We will be doing Creation, with two English language songs: "God Made the World" and the ever-popular "Who's the King of the Jungle" (where kids get to act like gorillas and blow soap bubbles).

I wonder what they will really think?

The "English language unit" which they are working on all week (with their regular English teacher) is called "Introductions".  I am ever so mindful that through games, crafts & stories, I am going to be attempting to introduce these kids to the actual King of the Universe.

Maybe it's good that I'm quite scared.

Thanks for your prayers, and watch for my report in the next few days!

"I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it."    --  Jesus, quoted in the Gospel acc. to Mark, chapter 10:15

Friday, September 4, 2009

97 degrees in the shade

97 degrees in the shade today for our  picnic. 

Students are grouped into "families" each year and Wayne's "Family Group" includes  new students who are away from their own families, some of them for the first time.  They came over to our green backyard (a rarity in Hong Kong) for hot dogs, some of which got, er, a little more "well done" than we may have hoped.

For a handful of the students (from a variety of Asian countries), it was the first hotdogs of their lives! So after saying grace, Wayne held a little demonstration of the perfect way to eat one.

It was such a gift to spend some time getting to know one another.  One of Wayne's doctoral students got tears in his eyes as he told  how much he missed his two little girls back in his home country.  

"We talked on the telephone last night," he said, "and my oldest daughter [two and a half years old] said, "Daddy when are you coming home?" 

He tells us how he especially misses his family at night, misses his daughter's little voice, singing a song about Jesus' love during family devotions. 

Other students can call home for pennies for a long phone call.  But his home country has closed many channels of communication and he has to spend several (Hong Kong) dollars for each precious minute of connection.  But his church has asked him to come to the seminary in Hong Kong to get the best possible education for ministering to people whose homes have been broken and livelihoods sabotaged by national conflicts. 

He told me how Wayne had prayed with him in his office, and how much that had meant to him.  He told how he was planning on saving every extra spare money he could, so as to go home to visit his young family once each year.

He knows he has been called here to Hong Kong, and he knows the Lord who called him will not abandon him, and will keep his family in the shelter of His wings.

On my bed I remember you;
       I think of you through the watches of the night.

 Because you are my help,
       I sing in the shadow of your wings.

 My soul clings to you;
       your right hand upholds me.

                              ---Psalm 63:6-8