Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter 2011 in Hong Kong

Easter has come! The angel has rolled away the stone... and sat on it for good measure!! (Matthew 28:2)
Go quickly and tell his disciples: He has risen from the dead! (Matthew 28:7)
Three baptisms today: two babies and ...
one very beautiful new born grandmother!("How can anyone be born when they are old?" -- "I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit." -- John 3:4-5)
This newly baptized little girl is blessed with two sets of grandparents, all eager to see her grow in faith and love.
What a different world little Mariam will be growing up in, from that of her grandmother. But our God is the same: "Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments"  -- Deuteronomy 7:9
The intern at our church is a student from LTS (Lutheran Theological Seminary of Hong Kong) Ruth does a lot of translating for me, too, so I am very thankful to her.
Upon seeing the baptisms, this little boy told his grandmother that he wants to be baptized, too!
Looks like we'll be having another baptism at Christmas (This church schedules baptisms for Christmas and Easter)  
41 He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” --The Apostle Peter, speaking in Acts 10

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Holy Week Reading of the Passion with 200 Grade Schoolers... in Chinese!

It's been an amazing Holy Week 2011 so far.
Wednesday seminary class presentation - an  game involving a slippery table, water glasses, and lots of laughter.  Highly educational!

Wednesday afternoon, "e" is for egg with my English phonics classes
Holy Thursday - Wayne went for a Holy Week walk with four of his students.
Tuesday night -- Coloring Easter eggs with adult English students who had never done it before
I forgot to specify that we should use WHITE eggs for Easter egg coloring.  So they improvised with some crayons we had on hand

Thursday morning a highly talented group from my church turned this group of 150+ Primary School students into energetic participants in a reading of the Passion of Christ according to St. Mark.... yup, in Chinese, of course!!!  (My part consisted of telling them this was a good idea in the first place.  They were understandably skeptical!).  The 19 year old son of the school principal made an awesome (last minute) Jesus, the teachers were exceptional at portraying the voices of the "bad guy" high priests, the narrator from our church was amazing, and I think the children GOT the story! Since we can't say "Alleluia" until Sunday morning, let me just say, WOW.  (And thank God THAT's over :)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Dramatic-Linguistic Challenges in Holy Week

The Lutheran Theological Seminary of Hong Kong had their annual sacred concert Friday night.  It was beautiful, as always, singing to a packed house, and this year Wayne accompanied the international students when they sang A Touching Place (sorry I didn't get a picture, but I've copied some of the words below.)

Meanwhile, I've been working hard with the Truth English Bible Club and we've had a break through (I think).

Due to the wise counsel of an experienced teacher from the Netherlands (my new friend and co-volunteer,  "Mrs. Henny") we started the Bible Club hour with snacks and fellowship instead of ending with them. 

What a difference, when we actually took time with the kids at the beginning of the hour instead of rushing right in with my "program". 

And look how they listened when "Mrs. Henny" told them the story of the first Easter.  Wow.

Okay, so we didn't get to sing all the songs I had planned or repeat the Bible verse I wanted them to memorize.  THIS is what it's all about, eating together, wanting to communicate, and learning about the greatest story of all.

This coming Thursday we'll be doing an Easter Program with the whole school.  Those of you who know me will be shaking in their boots with me when I tell you that we're going to attempt a whole Reader's Theatre of the Passion according to Mark with about 200 grade school children.  In Chinese.

"But I didn't think you had learned Chinese," you ask?  That's right.  That's what will make this one of my biggest dramatic-linguistic challenges ever. But isn't that one of the specialties of the Holy Spirit?

 Words to A Touching Place (Scottish traditional, words by John L. Bell)

Christ's is the world in which we move,
Christ's are the folk we're summoned to love,
Christ's is the voice which calls us to care,
And Christ is the one who meets us here.

To the lost Christ shows his face;
to the unloved he gives his embrace;
to those who cry in pain or disgrace,
Christ makes, with his friends, a touching place.*

(Here's a link to a Cathedral choir rendition of this song, the only free sample I could find for you.  I liked the International Choir's version much better :)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

First Trip to Mainland China!

Not to be outdone by my progeny (Middle kid is spending a semester in Beijing and Youngest Kid went to visit him this past week) I decided after 2 and a half years in Hong Kong that it was time to visit the Mainland.

Disclaimer: some of you may wonder what took me so long.  Well, the $180 a pop for the visa for US citizens, for one thing.  Even though Hong Kong is an official part of China, it's still an SAR (special administrative region) so you have to have a visa.

My friend and neighbor (and fellow Lutheran professor's spouse) Barbara L. was kind enough to take me across the border.  Finally, I got a chance to take the train to Lo Wu all the way TO Lo Wu (this is the train we take almost every day, but get off at Tai Wai).

So here's a picture of my first impression of the "real" China:  lots of shopping malls and skyscrapers!

 I did see a couple of weird things on the train to Lo Wu... like a middle aged man calmly paring and cleaning his nails with a box cutter.  Yes, a box cutter!

Using the toilet (stand up only, ladies, hope your leg muscles are in good shape.  Toilet paper? I've long ago learned to always carry my own) I looked around for how to flush... and could see only a door bell switch... would an attendant come running if I pushed it?  I hesitated, hesitated... oh good, it wasn't  an alarm, it was, in fact, the flush switch.

My friend and neighbor who "showed me the ropes", speaks a very decent Mandarin, AND knows what to order for dim sum!
So, bathroom stop and another stop at the bank ATM (which happily deposited Chinese yuan into my hot little hands) It was exactly one and a half hours from our front door to sitting at the table for dim sum... in China!!!!  I finally made it to China!!!

On the menu:
We eschewed the "boiled chives with pig's blood" and ordered "poached Western lettuce" instead.  It was good! (Okay we ordered just a few other things too... like 5 other dishes, many of them shrimp/veggie/dumpling related, all of which were too scrumptious to stop and take a picture.)

So I'll end this little blog post with a blurry picture of Youngest Son, safely back from his trip to Beijing to visit his older brother... could be the picture is blurry because this Mama was unable to keep the camera still in my eagerness to hug the boy.

Life can be sweet!

 5 LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup;
   you have made my lot secure.
6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
   surely I have a delightful inheritance.
-- Psalm 16

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Truth English Bible Club takes a nosedive...

After a GREAT start to our Truth English Bible Club three weeks ago, we had a totally out of control "club meeting" last week.

We do the same story two weeks in a row, first with group A, then with Group B.  Group B is, shall we say, a bit challenging?  More than a bit?

The first two meetings (Unit One) we focused on the Palm Sunday story, and while we could tell that Group B was a little feisty, we thought things went pretty well that first week with them.

The second two meetings (Unit Two) were about the Last Supper.  We had some yummy bread and grape juice, and had borrowed the chalice from the church to show them the cup we use in our church services. We did a pretty amazing craft, borrowing from Leonardo DaVinci's "Last Supper", they colored "Da Vinci-esque" pictures and filled in the names of the disciples, and then in a grand finale, I had them put glitter glue on the pictures of the bread and wine: gold glitter for Christ's body in the bread, red glitter for Christ's blood in the wine.  (Ah me, where DO I get these fits of inspiration?!?)

Little did we know these 9 and 10 year olds (of Group B) would race around the room with their full cups of grape juice and practically riot during the jaunty marching music of "We are Marching in the Light of God."  And did they understand even one word of the English Bible story I was trying to share with them?  Methinks not.
Group A sat long enough to enjoy a cup of grape juice. 

Hmmm, We are definitely going to a refine a few of our plans before the next meetings (April 13th & 20th).  May I ask you all to double up on those prayers for me, for all the kind ministry mentors from the church (and now we have an experienced teacher from the Netherlands who's helping us, as well, yippee) , and especially, please pray for those fascinating, complicated, maddening, beautiful kids God is calling us to serve :)

"Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God." -- Jesus, quoted in Luke 18:16
(this is the old King James version, and you'll forgive me if I say this past week, we did indeed SUFFER the little children...)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Angels Watching Over Them... from Hong Kong to Beijing!

We sent the Kid (our youngest, the 17 year old) off to meet his 21 year old brother in Beijing yesterday...  it only slowly dawned on us that he (the younger) was going to have to go through customs and a short layover on his own in a place I'd never heard of - Ningbo, a city that ( I looked it up on Wikipedia) is about seven THOUSAND years old and has a population of nearly 7 MILLION.  Very few of whom, I imagine, speak English.

You have to understand that Wayne and I have yet to set foot in Mainland China, partly because of the somewhat pricey visa for Americans, partly because we were waiting for the right occasion -- which is coming up, by the way.  But the point is that China is still very much terra incognita for the two of us.
Because Elder Brother was in class (on a Saturday afternoon!!!  Things are definitely different in China), the Kid was going to have to figure out his own way from the Beijing airport to the university area where Elder Brother was providing him with a couch (but the Kid was supposed to bring his own pillow and blanket, which he did).  

The meeting place was going to be the KFC near the university, so we downloaded sheaves of bus schedules and maps  (in both Chinese and English) hoping the Kid was going to find both the right university and the right KFC.  We bought a new SIM card for use in China, but had trouble getting it to work.

His anxious father kept plying him with more money as he left, as we imagined more and more scenarios where he might have to pay for a hotel and/or a looong taxi ride. 

 The good news? A delay in Ningbo meant that Elder brother was able to pick him up at the Beijing airport after all.

So both boys should have a good time spending all that extra "emergency money" this week.  God bless 'em. 

For He will give His angels charge concerning you,
         To guard you in all your ways.
    They will bear you up in their hands,
         That you do not strike your foot against a stone.
  -- Psalm 91:8-9