Friday, February 18, 2011

Prison Hopes

Last weekend was prison ministry weekend.  A young Japanese inmate is wondering about baptism.  He is a Buddhist but has come to know a different kind of love in our little monthly Christian community.  He has been in prison for years and is almost certainly considered a great shame to his family.  He was my oldest son's age when he landed in prison (23) and will be over 30 when he is released, in two years.  He gets no letters from home.  Why? I ask him.  Because there is nothing to say, he responds.

I marvel each time we go to the prison, how very much there IS to say.  Time and time again, when I have to leave my bed extra early on prison-visit days, I think, Why do I do this? Is this really worth it? And then we gather, the guys raise the roof with their songs, and then tear into God's word like, well, prisoners hungry for fresh Bread.

Yup, it's worth it.

During our prayer times, we pray big prayers.  One of the newest inmates, young, slender, earnest, asks for prayers for his girlfriend (a Hong Kong woman) who recently gave birth to their baby.  We all, American, British, Chinese, Indian, Japanese, South American, and African inmates, we pray together for this young family.  How in the world will they ever make it?  Only God knows.  But God knows!  And one of God's specialties is releasing prisoners of every kind.

 “I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness;   I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness."   -- The prophet Isaiah 42:6-7

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Another Son Leaves the Nest

heading to the Hong Kong airport
This morning we brought Son #2 to the airport to fly to Beijing, where he'll be studying as an exchange student for a semester. (In the USA his first semester ended before Christmas, Beijing University 2nd semester starts after Chinese New Year, hence the longest vacation he may experience until he reaches retirement age!)
He's been living with us just long enough for him to almost learn not to slam the doors at night,  and long enough for me to almost learn not to leave the sound on when I turn my computer on in the mornings. (Hong Kong living means we were all sleeping close enough to each other that all these things mattered.)

He enjoyed sleeping, eating, and trying out popular Hong Kong martial arts such as Wing Chun (too slow, he complained, altho he got a nice t-shirt out of it) and Brazilian Jujitsu (from which he came home bruised but happy). He also enjoyed living room wrestling with his younger brother (now the only nestling again) so that our casualties from his visit include 1) a glass picture frame, slid off the wall and crashed, 2) a bottle of soy sauce, fell off the cabinet and splashed 3) the vase Wayne alleges he bought me for Valentine's Day, smashed, apparently,  into smithereens.

We loved having him here.  The house is strangely quiet, and youngest son is stuck with just us again.

Below: pics from what to me seems like the amusement-ride-esque views from the top of the double decker bus taking us to the airport to see him off.   AND, one last burger before the flight.  Our family members have diminished by 25% but we think our grocery bill will be halved.

 19 Listen, my son, and be wise,
   and set your heart on the right path:
20 Do not join those who drink too much wine
   or gorge themselves on meat...

 22 Listen to your father, who gave you life,
   and do not despise your mother when she is old.
23 Buy the truth and do not sell it—
   wisdom, instruction and insight as well.
24 The father of a righteous child has great joy;
   a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him.
25 May your father and mother rejoice;
   may she who gave you birth be joyful!--     Proverbs 23            
(nuf' said!)

Friday, February 4, 2011

Happy Lunar New Year of the Rabbit!

  Happy New (Lunar) Year of the Rabbit to all of you.  Are there any rabbits among my readers?  If so, these are your (supposed) characteristics:

People born in the Year of the Rabbit are articulate, talented, and ambitious. They are virtuous, reserved, and have excellent taste. Rabbit people are admired, trusted, and are often financially lucky. Rabbit people seldom lose their temper. They are conservative and wise.

Disclaimer: No, I definitely don't take this too seriously.  But it's kind of fun! And definitely part of the culture here.  The Year of the Rabbit seems to be a good year for weddings, and colleagues tell me that next year (the year of the Dragon) the number of births will swell in Hong Kong and China, as the Dragon is considered an especially auspicious birth sign.

You can find out more about all of this, as well as discover your own sign (and supposed characteristics)  at

On New Year's Day, we took a stroll on Nathan Road, here are some glimpses of what we got to see:

(OK I know these are not pictures of rabbits;  dragon dances still trump the little rabbit as the main feature of New Year's celebrations.)

Kung Hei Fat Choi! to all of you (roughly translated, Good luck and much fortune)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Chinese New Year's Eve Hikes - No guard rails!

Youngest son is off from school for a week because of the Chinese New Year holidays, middle son is living with us until his new semester begins in Beijing, so we've been using our old ploy of family hikes to use up some of the excess energy in the household.

Monday we went to Dragon's Back trail, which true to its name makes you feel like you're a pack of little lice crawling on the ridges of a dragon's back.
Yesterday (while I was at work) "the boys" went to a lesser known mountain called Sharp Peak.  I was exceedingly glad that I wasn't along, because I am afraid of heights. 

Heights with guard rails I can take.  Heights with gentle slopes are fine. 

But heights where you're standing at the top of the world, and one little shove from one of the brothers could send the other brother tumbling down (what seems like) miles and miles into the sea?  I'm very glad to have a job that prevented me from going on this one. 

It's customary for Chinese New Year, to wish each other health and prosperity, so on this Chinese New Year's Eve,  here are words of blessing from Psalm 72:
 3 May the mountains bring prosperity to the people,
   the hills the fruit of righteousness.
4 May he defend the afflicted among the people
   and save the children of the needy;