Thursday, May 27, 2010

Visiting the Doctor in Hong Kong: A Comedy in 3 Parts

For those who know me, this photo is obviously not me... this is one of our LTS students from mainland China, performing an exquisite liturgical dance. 

I like to think that she represents the inner me, though -- this is how I see myself and how I hope to look in the New Creation, ok?

In Old Earth life, though, I am a good deal older and fatter than this --- and it was time for my first medical check up at a Hong Kong clinic this week, so  I thought I'd share a few of my observations with you all.

Part I  --  I had hoped the Chinese had invented a better way of doing mammograms, but no, it was the same, same deal, only with much tinier changing rooms (think airplane toilet and then cut the space in half) and no small talk to calm shaky nerves (my sister has stage IV breast cancer and I think every female on both sides of my family has had it... so I figure I'm a walking time bomb.  However, I'm pleased to report that everything is clear for another year).

Part II -- For a stool sample I was handed a container the size and shape of a pharmacy pill bottle.  Nothing else, just this empty pill bottle, handed to me by a nurse with very rudimentary English who didn't look like she wanted to be asked any questions.  You may not want to think about that for very long, and I'm not going to say anything else about it.

Part III --  I had all my appointments on Monday and the nurse dutifully wrote down my weight....  XX number of kilos.... which is exactly the same weight as I'd been when I left the USA.... and I could have sworn that I lost weight!  So for four and a half days I have been totally totally bummed about this, feeling sluggish and mad and sorry for myself.  All this extra exercise I'm getting in Hong Kong (we have no car here) and all this walking up and down the mountain and over to the metro station and up the steps and down the steps, and no weight loss at all??!?

But this morning, on my jogging path, it suddenly came to me... I did the math wrong!!!!  I had multiplied by 2 then added 20% instead of just multiplying by 2.2 (kilos x 2.2 = pounds)... So actually, I really and truly HAVE lost more than 10 pounds here in Hong Kong!!!

See, I'm already on my way to looking more and more like the beautiful woman in the picture.

Life is good!

I know that my redeemer  lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. 
    26 And after my skin has been destroyed,  yet  in  my flesh I will see God;
    27 I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another.
       How my heart yearns within me!  
-- Job 19:25

Saturday, May 22, 2010

White Tongues of Fire

Last week the canal was drained revealing vast lumpy mud flats which smelled like sewage.  The egrets, however, seemed delighted, finding all kinds of delicious sustenance in the foul puddles.

In honor of Pentecost (the Christian celebration of the arrival of the Holy Spirit infusing failed disciples with great gusts of hope and energies) I thought I'd share some of my glimpses of these elegant birds transforming fetid drainage ditches into a whirl of movement and grace.

(This canal is a 5 minute walk from our home).

"Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.  They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them."   -- Theophilus' friend writing in the book of The Acts of the Apostles, chapter two

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Happy Buddha's Birthday!

Is it wrong for a Christian to celebrate Buddha's birthday by sleeping in? Well, in Hong Kong it's a public holiday so guess what?!  We are celebrating!

What do  people do on Buddha's birthday? I had no idea, but thankfully, the Chinese department at Eric's school (Hong Kong International School) sent us the following helpful info:

Buddha’s Birthday, May 21, 2010
Since the Yuan Dynasty, Buddha’s birthday is usually celebrated on the 8th day of the Fourth Moon.  This year it’s on May 21st  (Friday).  Hong Kong Government declares it as a Public Holiday.

Some Chinese people celebrate this day as the day of the “Bathing Buddha.”  On this day inside each of the Buddhist temple, it is a custom to “bathe” the Buddha with perfume water.  Then the worshippers will take some of the holy water back home, hoping to bring peace and blessings to their family.
In addition, this is also a celebration of the birthday of the ox.  In rural areas, farmers usually take this day to give oxen a big bath.  Some farmers even express their thanks to the oxen by giving them a day of rest.

Well we don't have any oxen, so we are giving ourselves a day of rest instead.

Happy Holiday!  :)


  The fear of the LORD leads to life;
       then one rests content, untouched by trouble. 

                                                     -- Proverbs 19:23

Saturday, May 15, 2010

What does it take to be a Christian Leader?

Last day of class for the 16 students from 7 different countries in my "Introduction to Pastoral Formation" course at the Lutheran Theological Seminary of Hong Kong.

They were my kindly "guinea pigs" as I taught this course for the first time, exploring everything from preaching, to baptizing, to conducting a Christian funeral, to the importance of term limits for treasurers, to the need for regular time off for recreation and fun!!

I made chocolate chip cookies for this last day and let them know that I expected to see positive results on their evaluations of me (although the cookies were a little bit hard so I'm not sure if that ploy paid off or not :)

They were a great group.  I am really so incredibly honored to be able to teach... and learn from, this crew. 

  Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms. 
                                              -- I Peter 4:10

Monday, May 10, 2010

Who's the King of the Jungle?

Last week we worked ourselves up to tackle "Who's the King of the Jungle?" in the P2 classroom, complete with gorilla noises and chest thumping and bubbles.

What, you don't know this classic?

Who's the King of the Jungle
Who's the King of the Sea
(bubble, bubble, bubble)

Who's the King of the Universe
and who's the King of Me?

His name is J-E-S-U-S, YES!
He's the King of me
He's the King of the Universe
the Jungle and the Sea
(bubble, bubble, bubble)

This is not a great song theologically (ahem) but it is rather  appropriate  for Hong Kong, since we live literally between the jungle and the sea, with monkeys swinging in our trees and bazillions of strange sea creatures wriggling in the ocean bays.

It's been raining and raining, with snails and slugs creeping everywhere, and frogs hopping through the wet grass and moaning throughout the night, sounding like cows with a bad stomach ache .  The hallways of the Lutheran Primary School are dripping with humidity, the hallway floors flooded with rain (the hallways are open to the outside) and everyone is beginning to be a little stressed out with  end of the year evaluations and tests looming.

This song is a great stress reliever, you should try it. 

This coming week we are doing the /i/ vowel sound, so I think we'll be doing another one of my favorite stress- relief activities, eating ice cream!

"Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these." -- Jesus, quoted in Luke 18:16

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Things that creep...

THIS is what greeted our youngest son in the shower at 5:45 on Tuesday morning.  Sometimes we forget we are living in the tropics, and then the temperature & humidity suddenly soar... and creatures like this one invade our house, and we remember.  Oh yes, we remember.

Any arachnologists around who care to identify this guy (or gal?!) for us?  Is he as dangerous as he looks to our untrained eyes, or is he just a big happy-go-lucky fellow traveler on this earth?

"God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind.  And God saw that it was good."  -- Genesis 1:25

(do I dare say that I beg to differ with God?)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Nepalese Worship with Verve: An Acts 2 Church

Verve is  the word that came to mind about worship today among a Nepalese congregation here in Hong Kong.

When we first arrived, up three flights of narrow stairs into a small apartment-sized worship space, there were only a handful of people.  Soon after the worship began:
The praise band started jamming,  the drummer (playing these incredible drums called tabla) started drumming, the guest preacher (Wayne) started preaching, and all the people started praying... (don't worry, not all of this took place at the same time)

Note the
shoes that are removed before stepping up to the altar... This is holy ground.

Kinda cool that it's a pastoral couple (Raju & Gita) leading this astonishing little church. (They are both LTS alumni)

We look forward to being invited back again, and watching this little church grow.  From what we saw today, it definitely will.  (Check out a video from a recent Nepalese Union Church Baptism festival here)
The Psalm for today was Psalm 148, and it was followed by a short burst of ... speaking in tongues?  (Hard for us English speakers to tell when the language switched from Nepalese language to a heavenly language, but later on the pastors told us, yes, that's exactly what was happening, a festive burst of speaking in tongues.) 

Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.
And he has raised up for his people a horn, the praise of all his faithful servants of Israel, the people close to his hearts.  Praise the LORD.