Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Telling the Crazy Gospel to Second Graders

I've been having camera problems, can you tell?  This week there is a gorgeous display of richly colored icons at the LTS seminary.   I finally took this photo, out of desperation, with my cell phone... not realizing until later that it was somehow in black & white mode.  sigh.  But maybe the photo captures my less than perfect efforts to preach the Gospel in various & sundry ways here in Hong Kong.

Last week I got to tell the actual Easter story (crucifixion and resurrection) to "my" group of second graders at the  Lutheran Primary School.  For some of them, I think  it was their first time hearing it.  They reacted with open-mouthed horror and wonder -- utterly appalled (and fascinated) by the crucifixion thing (nails in the hands... we'd been studying the /ai/ phonics pattern for nail) and totally intrigued by the idea of someone getting up from the dead with a real body (not a ghost). 

It was really an interesting experience for me, trying to figure out how to teach the Easter story authentically, but appropriately to the second grade level... and some of them are special needs kids too!!  We concluded with a song where they got to jump up for the "Jesus GOT UP from the dead!" part... and they thoroughly enjoyed that.

I think they think of me as "that crazy lady" with the weird stories now.  But I think that's ok.

For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.    -- St. Paul in his First Letter to the Corinthians 1:21

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Easter in Cambodia, Part 3: Rainbow House & eating bees

The third (and last) installment of pictures from Wayne's trip to Cambodia as he accompanied Joseph, who is a recent graduate from the Lutheran Theological Seminary of Hong Kong, where Wayne teaches.

The first picture looks like a postcard but Wayne says he actually took it himself (!)... of the Royal Palace in Pnom Penh.

Next, two more pictures of Joseph - Joseph at a community well, Joseph with a child who has just climbed an enormous palm tree to harvest palm sugar water (whatever that is).

This next set of pictures is from The House of Rainbow Bridge Hospice for orphans with AIDS, where Joseph's role is to serve, encourage, and support children with AIDS and those who care for them.   

A recent report on The Rainbow House states "The health condition of the aids orphans has become stable under the good care in Rainbow Bridge.  The death rate is zero from June in 2007 to 2009 (from 25% in 2005)."

For more pictures from the Rainbow House AIDS orphanage, click here.

Along with encountering these precious, fragile, and resilient children, Wayne also had the opportunity to visit the scene of one of the great atrocities in Cambodian recent history - the S21 Genocide Museum - click here for photos - where in the 1970's,  thousands of Cambodians, including women, infants & children, were tortured and murdered by the Khmer Rouge under the orders of Pol Pot.

Joseph also took Wayne to go see one of the 7 Wonders of the World -- The Temples of Ancient Angkor!  More pictures of these truly amazing temples here.    

Oh yes, and the bee eating?  Here's the evidence -- honeycomb, larva and all.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Easter in Cambodia Part 2: Orphanage Angel in a Yellow Hat

[Thinking about that kid in a yellow hat. How often has he been photographed, by well-meaning foreign visitors? It's great to have visitors, but what's even better is that at LTS we get to be part of a community that strengthens people like Joseph who lives near this child, and can minister to him, the other orphans, and the STAFF of this orphanage, on a long-term basis.]
Easter 2010. Wayne visits one of his LTS graduate students, Joseph, who is now back in Cambodia leading a pastoral training school. Here is Part 2 of the everyday sights for Joseph in his work which includes ministry with staff and children of the  CPCDO orphanage in Phnom Penh.  

A volunteer group from the Happy Tree organization in Hong Kong was also visiting while Wayne was there, leading the kids in all kinds of fun & educational activities.

I've included pictures of the bedroom facilities for the kids.... funds are currently being raised to move the orphanage to a better facility, where sewage floods will no longer seep into the children's bedroom (as is now the case).

You can see Wayne's full set of CPCDO orphanage pictures here.

    36 He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, 37 "Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me." -- another one of Jesus' "action parables", retold in Matthew 9:36-37

Monday, April 12, 2010

Easter in Cambodia Part 1: Garbage Dump Angels

Easter 2010. Wayne visits one of his LTS graduate students, Joseph, who is now back in Cambodia. 
This is the reason why the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Hong Kong is so critically  important - Christian leaders are being shaped and strengthened to go back to their communities and serve in life-giving ministries.

Joseph leads a pastoral training school in Phnom Penh, serving, building up, and shepherding people who live in garbage dumps, orphans and their caretakers, and very young children with AIDS.  Here is Part 1 of the everyday sights for Joseph in his work with those whom Jesus considers his flesh & blood brothers and sisters:

"The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'"

"The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did not do for me.' "                -- Jesus, quoted in Matthew 25:40 & 45

For more photos, check out the larger set of photos on Flicker
Also, check back soon for the next series of pictures from Easter in Cambodia Part 2: Orphanage Angels

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Angels watching over them

Last Thursday before Easter I got a phone call from my 86 year old mother back in the United States.  It was just past midnight her time in the USA even though it was in the early afternoon here in Hong Kong.  It was a very unusual time for her to be calling me.  She said something to me on the telephone but all I heard was  "Torsten" (my son's name)  “hospital” and “car accident”

I think my own motherly heart is still not recovered from those three words in the same sentence, (my son’s name/hospital/car-accident)

But then my mother very quickly said, “He’s okay! He’s okay!”  “I picked him up from the hospital.  They were driving 69 mph,  the cars are both destroyed, but it’s a miracle,  Torsten and his friend and the other driver, they all had their seatbelts on.  They all had airbags in the cars.  And they all only have cuts and bruises from this big accident.” 

My son is alive and well.

(Also she told me it was not his fault!  He was not even driving the car, but the other car had pulled out right in front of  my son’s friend’s car)

Because of the time difference between us, I had to wait the whole day before I could speak with my son personally.  Meanwhile, though he sent me these pictures:  

If I thought it was all a bad dream, now I had evidence that this accident was very real. 

The next day, Friday morning, I was finally able to call my son up  (through Skype) so that I was able to see him , and hear from him personally about what had happened.  And do you know what nearly the first thing he said was?

Do you want to see my scars and bruises?

And my grown son pulls up his shirt to show where the seatbelt had left a dark purple bruise across his shoulder, and he pushes down his belt to show where the airbags had left a big red welt on his hip.

My son looked at me and smiled.  It’s a miracle I’m alive he says.

In just  that same way, but of course a hundred times more intense, does Jesus show the disciples his hands, and pulls aside his robe to show them his side, where the spear had made a deep ugly gash in his skin.

Peace be with you he says.

My guess is that Jesus smiles as he says this.

It’s such a human thing to do, show your scars after a near escape from death.  But in Jesus‘ case, he hasn’t just escaped death, he has defeated death.

"When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side.  Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord."  -- John 20:19-20

Happy Second week of Easter, everybody!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Easter not-quite Sunrise - it's 5 a.m. in China!

N 2010 Sunrise Easter Worship, Tao Fung Shan cross, overlooking Shatin
"On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.  They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.  --    Luke's Gospel, chapter 24

Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday Among the Tombs

"Anyone who is hung on a tree is under God's curse."
-- Deuteronomy 21:23

Through what keyhole did that death lead,
the one on Golgatha
to which Christ took his last heavy steps
carrying his cross
seeping blood
like a fresh slaughtered lamb,
like a woman
in the throes of


We remember the dead
we clean their graves
paint their sepluchres
bring them offerings
fruit, flowers, photos, gifts of paper and stone.

we whisper words of thanksgiving.  memory.  promise.   regret.
almost always regret.
and still the dead stay dead.

Until, with God's own death, the key begins to turn.