Saturday, November 27, 2010

Advent and Founder's Day Celebrations at LTS-Hong Kong

"I delight greatly in the LORD, "

 2010 Founder's Day celebrations at the Lutheran Seminary where Wayne teaches pastoral care and counseling.  He and other international Lutheran missionaries join Chinese faculty in teaching, mentoring, and spiritual formation of Christian church leaders for  Hong Kong, Myanmar, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, as well as beautiful Mainland China itself!

As we enter the season of Advent, it's fantastic to see all these different students joining together here in Hong Kong, to celebrate God in a kaleidoscope of color, language, and song.

 "I delight greatly in the LORD

   my soul rejoices in my God.

"...before all nations"
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation 

   and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,

as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,

   and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. 

For as the soil makes the sprout come up
   and a garden causes seeds to grow, 

so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness 

   and praise spring up before all nations.  -- Isaiah 61:10-11

"my soul rejoices in my God."

"I delight greatly"

"as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest"

"and arrayed me in a robe of His righteousness"

"as a bride adorns herself with her jewels"

"so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations."

"For He has clothed me with garments of salvation"

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Hong Kong Hot Pot, Dim Sum, and Thanksgiving Pie

Happy Thanksgiving!  As my loyal readers already know, we've celebrated two more or less traditional Thanksgiving Dinners (more sushi, less green bean casserole :) ... but today I am thankful for...

Wayne's seminary colleague & wife who invited us for a traditional Hong Kong "hot pot" - what Hong Kong folks like to eat for family gatherings... cut up shrimp, fish, beef, mushrooms, greens, tofu which are boiled in a common pot of boiling water (hence the name - hotpot!) somewhat like fondue, minus the cheese and fattening stuff so you end up with a really healthy, delicious, sociable meal.

I'm also thankful for the church where I serve as "sacramental minister" once a month.  Last Sunday they invited me out for a traditional "dim sum" which is another very social way of eating... the food comes in these bamboo baskets and you order lots and lots of different things (so it's not worth it going with just one or two people, this is definitely a group event) and you kind of eat in random order... we had pigeon wings (yes, and heads) and shrimp dumplings and veggies and Chinese cake and lovely rice noodle things, and soup and beef dumplings and just when I thought we were surely finished, along came more bamboo baskets to fill up our bowls with heaps of fried rice to top things off.

So the grand finale was today, Thanksgiving Day itself, where I got to go to work (did I mention Thanksgiving is NOT a day off here?) and teach my adult students about American Thanksgiving.  It was pretty touching to have them share what they were thankful for.  None of them had heard the story of the original American Thanksgiving as a meal where Europeans and Native Americans sat down together.  I love living in a place where we get to, slowly, really find out about people who are so different from us... and in so many ways the same.  Most of them were thankful for friends and family.

They also completely devoured my home made pumpkin pie.  Made me happy!  :)

Blessed Thanksgiving to y'all!  (Since we are 14 hours ahead of folks in the Midwest, we're calling our boys in the morning... I'm thankful for modern technology and free Skype phone calls).

"Enter his gates with thanksgiving
   and his courts with praise;
   give thanks to him and praise his name.
 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
   his faithfulness continues through all generations."
   -- Psalm 100:4-5

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Too Much Stuffing but Just Enough Thanksgiving

Successfully cooked a full Thanksgiving Dinner on my tiny little stove and 1/3 size of normal oven. Invitees included Germans, Chinese, Thai, and Burmese friends/neighbors/students.




 Missed my sister though.  Of course my sons and my mom, too, but it's my sister and I who always laughed our way through Thanksgiving preparations -  a glass of wine in hand -- I was always the stuffing and pie expert, she's the "presentation" queen.  So this year my "presentation" left a wee bit to be desired, but oh well.

I was proud of my roasted carrots (in lieu of sweet potatoes) which had specks of the only thing I was able to harvest successfully from my Hong Kong "garden"  - dill weed! The easy recipe is here.

Only down side to this event -- I so stuffed myself with that fabulous (if I do say so myself) stuffing that I was up walking in the night.  Note to self: it's a bad sign when your 17 year old son stops eating before you do.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Thanksgivings on the lawn and in prison

It was a weekend filled with Thanksgivings.

Friday night was our Thanksgiving on the lawn with 30+ people: American, Canadian, Norwegian, Swedish, Chinese, Norwegian, Finnish, German and at the last minute we were thrilled with the arrival of my Japanese friend Yoko, her son who is a classmate of our son's,  and her husband who had just gotten off the plane from a business trip in Germany.  Yoko added some incredibly beautiful  home-made sushi to the Thanksgiving banquet, providing some Asian flair to our dinner! 
Thanks again Amber Bergeson for this photo. Check out her lively account of making mashed potatoes for 35 at

My hasty photo of the left over sushi does not do justice to Yoko's exquisite creations, served on shiso (perilla) leaves, and beautifully arranged on a colorful plate.          

On Saturday, it was my first time ever presiding over Holy Communion in prison, where we remembered that one of the earliest words used for the Lord's Supper is "eucharist" or Thanksgiving.  If I understood them correctly, it turns out that most of the prisoners had not had the opportunity to have Communion in many months, maybe even years.  I was worried whether the prison authorities were going to allow me to bring in pita bread for communion, since I had been told that they only allow "the official church white bread", which I was afraid might mean only communion wafers.  However, I stuck everything into plastic ziplock bags, like you do at the airport, and it made it through all the scanners.  The guys (many of whom, oddly enough, are from South America) were totally happy to have something that reminded them of the good tortilla bread from home.  In prison, they have a diet of rice, rice, rice.  So even though they each only got a tiny bit, I'm so glad they got some "real bread" to go along with the "real presence"!

No photos allowed at the prison, so here you have the ordinary materials which Christians believe bring new life and utter freedom to those who eat & drink in faith - even those locked behind prison walls.   

In prison we have been studying the Gospel of John and we're now up to the 6th chapter.  This is part of this month's study:

"I am the living bread that came down from heaven.  Whoever eats of this bread will live forever." -- Jesus

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

In Anticipation of Thanksgiving...

One of our students was kind enough to provide us with this photo from one of our recent fiestas.  After nearly two years in Hong Kong, and loads of experiences seeing the sights, dining out,  and meeting all kinds of people, one of our favorite things in life is still just sharing a meal... often yes, served in pots and pans rather than making more dishes for our chief dishwasher (Youngest Son).

In November we are anticipating a LOT of special meals.

Did I mention that I have started yet another new part-time job?   Two nights a week I now go and teach English to adults.  So far so good!  My first lessons included helping people to enunciate clearly the difference between "beach" and, um a similar sounding but very different-in-meaning word.   Ditto with the word "fork" AND the ever present tendency (in religious circles) to interchange "blessed" with "breast".

Tomorrow night I get to do my first "Fun with Christa" night.  Yup, it's really entitled exactly that, so I'm a little nervous.  If anyone has some games using English that's not too adolescent... pass 'em on. (I googled "English games adults" and you might be able to imagine what kind of stuff came up on the screen.  Not very helpful. 

Friday night we are having an outdoor Thanksgiving event on the lawn with about 35 people.  (Thanksgiving Day itself will not be a holiday here in Hong Kong, of course, so we are celebrating early).  I haven't snagged the cans of pumpkin yet, though others have assured me they are to be found in Hong Kong, if you look hard enough and are willing to pay the big bucks!

On Saturday I will be celebrating Holy Communion at the prison.  It is the first time our ministry team is attempting this, and it will be a stretch in every way - practical (I just got word today that we can only bring in "church type white bread" - do you think I can get by with pita bread?) linguistic (half the group speaks Spanish!), theological (these are NOT all Lutherans and have a wide variety of understandings of the Lord's Supper), pastoral (some may not be baptized, or not be ready to receive communion for a variety of reasons) and liturgical (How to best conduct the service in the  cluttered, classroom-closet kind of space we have, filled with long benches...)

So we are anticipating a variety of meals in the coming few weeks.  Stay tuned for the updates.

Guide me ever, great Redeemer, pilgrim through this barren* land. 
I am weak, but you are mighty; hold me with your pow'rful hand.
Bread of heaven, bread of heaven, feed me now and evermore, 
feed me now and evermore.            -- traditional hymn

*(although Hong Kong is NOT so barren... see below)
On the way home from church on Sunday we chanced upon this lovely bit of creation.

note to self- I will invest in a better camera, I will! And learn how to use it.

We heard there was a party!

Mmm, wonder what's flying by for dinner today?

Monday, November 1, 2010

All Saint's Night 2010

The All Saint's service started in the dark at the fishpond up on the mountain. From there we walked with candles lit, under the arched entrance gate of the Tao Fung Shan cemetery, up, then down the uneven stone steps, until we assembled around an outdoor altar, scratchy cypress trees at our backs.

We read out the names of those who had died, Chinese names, and American, Norwegian, Japanese and Danish, while looking at the flickering faces of the wondering children and somber adults. 

We ate bread, dipped in wine, we squinted up at the few stars which managed to pierce the Hong Kong gloom, and we remembered the question the two men in gleaming clothes asked the terrified women at Jesus' graveside.

"Why do you look for the living among the dead?"  [Luke 24:5]

This All Saint's Day, 2010, we are the living.  We dare to believe that those who have entered the mystery of eternity are, through Christ, awake, alive, and love us even better than they were able, on earth, to do.  They are the saints!  And we, we are in the process of becoming.
O blessed communion, fellowship divine! 
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
Yet all are one in Thee for all are Thine.
Alleluia! Alleluia!  -- [Hymn: For All the Saints, 4th stanza]