Monday, October 26, 2009

Sunburned in October

Another Holiday in Hong Kong!  Today is Cheung Yeung (it has various spellings), the 9th day of the 9th month of the Chinese calendar, and is a day for hiking, tending the graves of the ancestors, and family picnics.  We participated only in the hiking and picnicking part, around the High Island Reservoir of the Sai Kung area of Hong Kong.

We head off to Sai Kung on the MTR... Youngest son is not overly excited about the prospect of a 5 hour hike.

Friends Amy & Joseph point out the small dot where we're headed first -- a hut at the top of the mountain. 

Spectacular views from the hut.

Heading down to the beach.

Not terribly crowded for one of the biggest picnicking holidays of the year.  Maybe the two hour walk to get here has something to do with that.

The ever-important bathroom facilities.

Flowers and eucalyptus trees along the way. Butterflies would not sit still long enough to have their portrait taken!

Separation barrier dividing reservoir from the ocean.

We won't show you the "after the walk" pictures... suffice it to say that with our weary legs and late October sunburns... we decided the 10 minute additional walk would be too much, and we took a taxi home from the MTR station! 

Friday, October 23, 2009

Does multi-media include guns?

This has been an odd week, involving lots of media. 

Kids' recording
Last Friday I was suddenly hauled off to record short poetry bits for the Lutheran School kids to listen to my voice to help them prepare for a big English language recital event coming up here in Hong Kong.  I only remember one poem which had to do with a snowman melting into a puddle.  I wonder what these tropical weather kids will make of that.

Classical Radio
On Monday I recorded five two and a half minute  spiritual "reflections" for a classical radio station
(RTHK 4 FM Hong Kong  11:57pm -12:00 midnight)
They will be aired  next week.  When I was asked to do it I thought, aw, piece of cake.  Not so.  Brevity is harder than it looks.

I also asked, who stays up until past midnight to listen to classical music and a three minute meditation?  The answer in Hong Kong is, tens of thousands of people.  Oh.

Parent videos and clip art
On Wednesday I received word that they would be filming my class for parent-teacher conferences taking place on the Mainland for those students who cross the border each day for school.  Naturally I wanted to make a good impression so I spiffied up a power point phonics review, complete with lots of painstakingly chosen pictures.  Honestly, I put in at least a couple of hours just for this one short class.  But today, none of the pictures would appear on the (older) system being used at the school.  However, a technician who barely speaks English, just quickly added a bunch of clip art pictures.  It took him probably all of 8 minutes, and I have to say it was at least as good as the carefully chosen pictures I had searched out all over the internet.

SongWe are doing "The Wise Man Built His House Upon the Rock" with the second graders this week.  For good measure, I taught it to the teachers when I led the teachers' devotions today, too.  I'm always mindful that I need to be respectful of the fact that half the teachers are not Christian.  I don't want to force-feed them anything, but I want to reflect the honesty & joy of the Biblical faith.  I think everyone  liked the song though, because it has a catchy refrain:
The rains came down and the floods came UP; the rains came down and the floods came UP; the rains came down and the floods came UP and the house on the sand went SPLAT!

As I walked out the door at about 4:30 this afternoon, I came out of the school and was shocked to see three police officers in brown uniforms, one of whom had his gun drawn, pointing at the door of the apartment complex directly across from the school.  I had happened to take a picture just a minute before hand, and if you look closely, you can see one of the officers in the left bottom of the photo (although I hadn't noticed them at the time).  There were children in the school and in the schoolyard, and no effort had been made to cordon off the area.  It was weird.

"Everyone then who hears these words of mind and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.  The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it didnot fall, bcause it had been founded on rock." -- Jesus, quoted in Matthew 7

Friday, October 16, 2009

Climbing up and falling off

OK so maybe it wasn't the best idea for me to step on a rickety stool to teach kids the meaning of "up" and "on".  But I think they now fully understand the words "fall off," as I provided them with a memorable example.  The second graders screamed for joy.  (I'm fine, except for my ego, thanks for your concern).

They loved it when I sprayed them with water to teach them the meaning of "rain", and by extension,  "rainbow".

I meant to teach them the word "rug" and had spent way too long the night before trying to find the right little clip art illustration.... only to have one of my helpers walk around and have everyone write "rag" next to the picture of the rug.  I didn't have the heart (or the time) to correct them all.

The 6th graders looked at me stonily when I tried to get them to belt out the words to the BIBLE song during the morning assembly. But later in the afternoon, three of the 6th grade girls visited me in the English room and tried to ask me all kinds of things in their fledgling English, giggling & egging each other on.  I'm sure they were actually supposed to be somewhere else, but it was good to have them come.

Relationships are developing.  Maybe the children are learning some English phonics.  Maybe the whole school will be able to sing a few fun Bible songs by the end of the year.  Maybe some students will become curious enough to visit the church which meets at their school.  Maybe "in, with and under" the English language skills, Bible stories, songs, and mini-dramas (planned and unplanned!) they will hear a Word of Life with deep meaning for themselves and their families.

Today's Bible verse (duly recited in both Chinese & English during the morning assembly) was this one:

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28 

I really believe that!  Even falling off of chairs can be used to good purpose when you are working as one of God's agents.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Another Fabulous Friday

Too cute for words, so I'll start posting pictures... after carefully scrubbing my students' name tags.

It was another Fabulous Friday at the Lutheran School, and I am dead tired again... they wear me out, these little ones!

First graders did "f" for fish, making lovely folds to make fins for their fish.
We also had a grand old time telling the difference between "foot" and "feet".

Second graders began learning "The B-I-B-L-E" song. Remember that one? Here, I can teach you:
"The B-I-B-L-E, yes that's the book for me, I stand alone on the word of God, the B-I-B-L-E!"
I downloaded the sort of jazzy version from Wee Worship Favorite Bible Songs and the kids spontaneously got up and started dancing around the room.

It was either the Holy Spirit or just my total lack of ability to control a classroom :)

I will sleep well again tonight.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Mid-Autumn Festival

  Praise him, all his angels;
       praise him, all his heavenly hosts.

     Praise him, sun and moon;
       praise him, all you shining stars.

     Praise him, you highest heavens
       and you waters above the skies.
--  Psalm 148:2-4
Mid-Autumn Festival last Saturday -- this is  looking straight up at the moon from our front gate.  "Enjoying the moon" is a big part of Mid-Autumn festivities, as is eating moon-cakes, which are dense, chewy, and delicious bean-curd or lotus-seed filled pastries with salted duck egg, sugar, butter and flour.  Incredibly bad for you, I believe, particularly when eaten in large portions, as I am wont to do...

Children and young-at-heart enjoy the colored lights and lanterns of the Mid-Autumn Festivities.  Unfortunately Wayne & I went for another of our famous long hikes so I was too tired to go out and admire the lit lanterns at night.  Here's a fun photo from the Shatin Park on the morning after.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Shouts in the Hallway of the Hoppy Palace

So many happenings in such a short period of time, so check back soon as I plan on doing a few posts in a row.

 Here's a photo of the elegant frog I found outside our doorstep, who hopped away before I could get a really great shot of him.

News from the "Hoppy Palace Phonics Center" where I work 3 days a week to earn some extra income by tutoring mostly wealthy Chinese children, from the ages of 2 (or sometimes even less than 2!!!) to 7 or 8 years old.  They are mostly brought to their tutoring classes by their full time, live-in Indonesian or Philippino maids.  However, there is one kindergarten aged little girl, I'll call "Ling Ling" whose father has been depositing  her for phonics tutoring on Saturday afternoons.

I'd been having trouble with Ling Ling.  She looks at me with big eyes and will usually not say a word in English, but chatters away in Cantonese to the other students, disrupting my classes.  She scribbles all over her workbook, all over the whiteboard, all over the table, and all over the walls if I'm not quick enough to stop her.   She pinches the other students.  She grabs their colored pencils.  She hides under the table.

I found out that Ling Ling is a recent immigrant to Hong Kong from the mainland of China.  There is a lot of prejudice against "mainlanders", as they are known.  Although they are physically identical to the Hong Kong people, mainlanders tend to dress a little differently.  They seem a little poorer.  When someone  pushes to the front of the usually orderly lines to get into the Metro train -- it's often a "mainlander".  They are suspected of taking jobs from Hong Kong people, they are suspected of abusing the social and medical and housing services which Hong Kong provides its people.

I can't yet understand my students' Cantonese, but I suspect the other 5 students in the small room have been saying things to Ling Ling that she resents.

Her notebook cover and backpack are plain plastic ones, not decorated with Hello Kitty or Thomas the Train or Barbie, like the other children's.

Ok, so last Saturday I came up the elevator to the 19th floor of the Hoppy Palace, and I heard a man  ranting loudly, horribly, who knows what (in Cantonese).  The sound of the voice came from around the corner, but I soon found out it was exactly what I somehow feared -- Ling Ling's father storming at his five year old daughter, whose bright tear-stained angry eyes defied any of us witnesses - 3 or 4 Hoppy Palace staff --  to say a word.  And what word could I possibly say to a man who doesn't understand English, a man who is a recent immigrant, a man who is not as well-dressed as the other tutoring center clients, a man who desperately wants his 5 year old daughter to have the perceived advantage of tutoring by a real live Native English Teacher (me).

So I had more patience with her, this little Ling Ling.  And at the end of the hour I took her aside and gave her an extra candy.  "This is for you, Ling Ling."

What more could I do?

  "I cried like a swift or thrush,
       I moaned like a mourning dove.
       My eyes grew weak as I looked to the heavens.
       I am being threatened; Lord, come to my aid!" 
-- Isaiah 38:14