Saturday, April 21, 2012

What do you guys do there in Hong Kong, anyway?

Lutheran Theological Seminary: Hong Kong, Chinese, and international students commit themselves to reach out with God's justice, hope and healing.

Just this week a US pastor from a sponsoring congregation (Yes, you too can sponsor us here in Hong Kong and I bet you don't even have to be Lutheran :) asked us the very good question:
What do you guys do there in Hong Kong, anyway?

Happy to oblige I sent him  a longish e-mail which I then realized I could re-post here and share with our thousands... hundreds... tens... well, at least with our one loyal follower (shout-out to my Mom in Wisconsin.... Hi Mutti!!)

Specifically, Wayne & I are a husband & wife Christian pastoral team.  Wayne is the guy with a Ph.D., so he teaches Pastoral Care and Counseling to seminary students from Hong Kong, Mainland China, and many other countries esp. those from the Mekong region (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam).  

Wayne is part of a Hong Kong and international faculty at LTS which has theology students in many levels, from barely post-high school (and struggling with English) to those working on advanced level, doctorate degrees.

Right now besides teaching classes, Wayne is working especially closely with three graduate students who are preparing to return to their home countries and minister with --- 

1) Conflict resolution  -- this student has experienced situations in which church conflicts have erupted in violence and even death
2) A Christian sex education program for adolescents -- this student will be ministering in an area with some of the world's worst sex trade trafficking, and where ignorance abounds and deaths through self- inflicted abortions are said to be disastrously high
Internally Displaced Persons who now have some hope of returning to their ancestral lands. After enduring years of being on the run, their children stolen to serve in the army, their fields sown with land mines, men killed, women raped -- this student will bring discerning questions, listening ears, and Christian hope to these civil war refugees.

LTS International Student Choir April 20, 2012 colors and sounds of the nations at the Lutheran Seminary of Hong Kong

 And meanwhile, yours truly is working as  "Coordinator of International Student Affairs" which means I get to do boatloads of paperwork such as dealing with  scholarship accounts (yes, you too can be an international scholarship donor!) and applying for student visas, but I also get to do some hands on pastoral stuff such as visit LTS alumni and their ministries in places like Cambodia and Myanmar, and I'm currently working with a dynamite Indonesian student to do a Bible study/English conversation class with Muslim and Christian Indonesian domestic workers here in Hong Kong. 
Christian and Muslim dialogue - What does it mean to be a woman of faith?

"This is what I think... how about you?"  LTS student and Hong Kong domestic worker - both from Indonesia.

We think Jesus laughed a lot while on this earth -- so we do too!

 24 "...but let the one who boasts boast about this:
   that they have the understanding to know me,
that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness,
   justice and righteousness on earth,
   for in these I delight,”
            declares the LORD."
    (Jeremiah 9:24)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Easter Angels, Washing Wounds, and Mother Mary

This year we had Easter orchids along with our Easter lilies, and the orchids are still happily in bloom!
 Happy First Week of Easter!
I love the fact that in the liturgical Church we celebrate Easter for a "week of Sundays" so that it's not over when the lilies fade away.

This was our first Easter without any of our children. Wayne and I each had Easter services at our respective congregations (Cantonese-speaking Lutheran churches) and then -- novel idea -- we rested on Easter Sunday afternoon!!!

Andy!!! The delightful son of the only "pastoral couple" students at LTS...
 On Easter Monday we had friends (a.k.a. "Easter Angels") over for an Easter Monday dinner. In Hong Kong, where only 10% of the people are Christian, we get both Good Friday and Easter Monday off as public holidays!  Some parts of the British colonial heritage are worth keeping.
Andy's parents are the only students we have from Vietnam this year. Some of you will remember that we had enormous difficulties obtaining  student visas this year, and these are two of the students we were were praying for... and yours truly was filing mountains of paperwork for... and now they are here!!! I would appreciate your continued prayers as I am deep into preparing the visa documents for the new students who are supposed to arrive by July 30 this summer.  Pray for my attitude (it's not very good about having to do and re-do paperwork) but most important is just that these new visas are GRANTED in time for the summer orientation program here at LTS.

 In addition to Andy's family from Vietnam, we also were able to host the daughter of one of our previous colleagues from our years in the Central African Republic... Valerie!!!!!  We haven't seen Valerie since she was about three years old and we all lived in Africa.  She is cute and obviously smart as ever, I might add.
 Valerie brought along one of her fellow students at the Savannah College of Art and Design [SCAD] - Hong Kong Campus.

Welcome to Hong Kong, Valerie and Blake!

So you see the good Lord fills up our lives with wonderful folks even when our "bio-family members" are far away.  (We are very grateful for Skype, however, and were able to connect with almost everyone back in the USA as well as in Korea, where eldest son is located.)
 Meanwhile, the photo to the left  is a snapshot of a place I've been spending way too much time at... one of the public clinics, where, for $17 Hong Kong dollars  a pop (approximately $2.18 USD) I can have my leg wound scrubbed and redressed.  Yes, I'm well into week 4 of my continuing shin injury saga, week 4 of taking antibiotics, week 4 of exploring the public health care system in Hong Kong. Which is actually a pretty good system. There are worse ways of spending time than sitting in a clinic for a few extra minutes a day, watching the wounds of others getting washed... my own problem is pretty darn small.

This coming Sunday (The Second Sunday of Easter!) I'll be doing the second in  a series of Bible studies with Muslim, Christian, and secular Indonesian domestic workers-- we are talking about Mary, Jesus' mother, who is famous in Christian and Muslim circles. We are discussing being a woman, mother, virgin, widow, pray-er, sufferer, friend and beloved one [not necessarily in that order!!!] Assisting me is one of my "personal" angels (=God's messenger) LTS student Sondang Napitupulu  (Thanks Sondang!!!)
Happy First Week of Easter!!!!

May All SEVEN weeks of Easter be filled with new views of the Risen Lord!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A glorious trip to China's Fairy Lake Garden, followed by an inglorious fall...

Shenzen blossoms
I have not posted for a while and this is why:

Twelve days ago (March 20th to be exact) Wayne and I celebrated our thirtieth wedding anniversary by using our newly acquired multiple-entry visas to China (yes, we need a visa to enter the mainland of China from Hong Kong).  We took the metro, and 45 minutes and two checkpoints later, we were in the great shopping land of Shenzen, where you can buy a cheap imitation of anything.  Anything.

We, however, did not linger in the shopping areas but splurged and took a ten minute taxi to a place I had read about called the Shenzen Fairy Lake Botanical Garden.  There we:
posed by trees planted by Deng Xiaoping in 1992

took turns posing...

on the Fairy Lake bridge.
Admired the Fairy Land landscape.

and lilypads...

lots and lots



cacti gardens

and things besides cacti to look at!

Each cactus blooms in its own way...

At last, the petrified forest! I've always wanted to see a petrified forest.

Up close.

and even closer... petrified wood is like marble.

The 30th wedding anniversary meal in Shenzen was cheap, and the photography was free!!!
So why have I not posted in such a long time?  Because, alas, was it the wine? Was it the slightly loose sandals I was wearing? Was it the fact that I was tired and hurried too much to get an empty seat on the train back to Hong Kong?  The sad story is, I did not "mind the gap", I fell into the side of the tracks, got a gash on my shin, which got infected, which landed me in the hospital, which may be the subject of my next post... and then I'll try and get back on track with some of the great international student stories I have to tell...

So stay tuned!  Blessed Holy Week!