Sunday, September 30, 2012

Autumn Moon Festival

It's Autumn Moon Festival in Hong Kong
and throughout China!
Chinese students taught the international students
the fine art of making mooncakes

Each mooncake must contain a moon of course!

Many hands at work.

Definitely needs more rice flour!

This takes special technique, boys!
The finished product - perfection!
The more traditional mooncakes...
with salted egg in the center
Just before the official holiday began,
we celebrated a Autumn Moon Festival Eucharist
at LTS, complete with Chinese lanterns:
Jesus says, "Let your light shine"!
And this year, we are celebrating with
new friends, Australian missionaries
serving in Thailand, who have
one of the cutest 4 year olds
in the world.
"I can see the moon better from up here!"
Here's wishing all of you a blessed, fun, moonlight-filled Autumn Festival!

When I look at your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,

what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
    the children of the earth, that you care for them?
-- Psalm 8

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

What NOT to do if you're attacked by monkeys

A photo from another, more innocent day,
 when I still considered monkeys cute
rather than menacing...
So there I was, walking down the hill on a Friday night, quitin' time. Down the 121 steps from my office at the seminary, down the winding road past To Fung Shan, past the circle intersection, and just passing the cemetery, when I saw one solitary monkey on a papaya tree. 
Then I saw two or three, maybe a dozen. 

I'm cool with that. I'm not new to monkeys on my walk home. I avert my eyes (everybody knows you shouldn't look a monkey right in the eyes, right?).  I really didn't think a thing of it.  In fact, I was talking on my cell phone with Wayne, discussing the ever important question of what we were going to have for dinner.

I hear screaming behind me.  I turn around to look, and it's a big monkey screaming at me! Coming at me!

I turn around again, and there are monkeys pouring onto the road. There are monkeys overhead on the trees. They are all, inexplicably, looking at ME!

I try the aggressive dog thing where I stop and say "No!" firmly.  Well, maybe not so firmly.  Maybe it came out more like a "Noooooooo!" 

Then I could see some big daddy monkeys coming at me.  Monkeys big and small coming at me, dozens and dozens of them. Then I could see a bunch of angry, red, open mouths with glistening teeth coming at me.  And then I did exactly what you should NOT do if you're attacked by monkeys:

"But whatever you do, don't freak out; those who scream, wave their arms, and run away are only going to make the macaques even more aggressive."*

I freaked out, I screamed, I waved my arms, and I ran full speed down the length of the cemetery, and around the corner, where, thank GOD, they did not pursue me.

(Not another human being in sight, by the way.  I'm in Hong Kong for Pete's sake, and not one other human being in sight, nor - since no one came to my aid - within sound)

Okay, so I wasn't mauled, I wasn't bitten, they didn't actually touch me, just came close enough with those nasty looking teeth, to feed another several decades worth of nightmares. My throat was a bit sore from the screaming, but that was the physical extent of it.

It turns out Wayne heard the whole thing (he was on the cell phone, remember?) and guess what, this is how much he loves me, he rose up from his table at McDonalds (McDonalds? That's where you were???) leaving his almost untouched burger behind, and started running to rescue me!!

After I got home I invited my neighbors over and we had an impromptu "Escape the Mad Monkeys" wine and cheese and board game party, and I WON at the board game.

So all's well that ends well, and yes, I've gone down the hill again this week, alone, and not a monkey in sight.  But if I DO see some more  monkeys and one comes screaming at me, I'm going to do the 

"...the open-mouth threat. Basically, form an "O" with your mouth, lean toward them with your body and head, and raise your eyebrows."

And maybe I'll also follow the advice of most of our international students here -- and carry a big stick.

To read the whole article from where I culled those bits of highlighted info, check out the 2007 Slate article by Michelle Tsai on How to Fight Monkeys (big thanks to New Testament visiting professor and friendly, sympathetic neighbor Dr. Robin Mattison for researching and finding that article for all of us for future reference!)

So, watch out for monkeys, and if a great big troop of mad monkeys does come at you, please do not freak out.  But even if you do, be sure to have a party to celebrate the great escape afterwards.
The Lord is gracious and righteous;
    our God is full of compassion.
 The Lord protects the unwary;
    when I was brought low, he saved me.
 Return to your rest, my soul,    for the Lord has been good to you.  Psalm 116:5-7

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Final New International Student Arrives... and other scenes from the seminary...

Scene from the top of our seminary hill
where the cloud formations alone make you
know there is a great God of all...
and when the heat & humidity suddenly breaks
with waves of fresh air,
you know the Spirit is moving
wild and strong.
We're getting just a wee bit more daring in chapel...
German-Swedish, Myanma, Lao and Chinese faces raise up their
voices, hearts and yes, even their hands in song (a stretch for some Lutherans, but the Mekong students are gently teaching us :)

International relationships among young church leaders are being formed... which will have impact for decades to come.
Two new students from Myanmar and Indonesia --
there are no strangers in God's house.

Our final international student (from Cambodia) received his visa!! He was only a few days late for the semester...
He won't see his wife and two young daughters for at least ten months. His
tee-shirt reads: All for Jesus... NO TURNING BACK.
A fairly typical cafeteria scene... only this day we were celebrating our seminary president's sixtieth birthday.
Apples, juice, cake and... grape tomatoes! I love grape tomatoes!
Wayne and I took our three Cambodian students to church
today... Union Church has an orphanage project in Cambodia... LTS seminary has
three culturally aware, spiritually committed Cambodian students...
what synergies might the Holy Spirit be weaving?
They were welcomed enthusiastically.  Then we five headed out for (what else, since Wayne
was involved) an Indian buffet. Yum!

The wind blows wherever it pleases. 
You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.*

*John 3:8 The Greek for Spirit is the same as that for wind.   

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

This is how the seminary school year begins...

This is how the new school year begins at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Hong Kong...

hearing the Word (simultaneous translation provided - English, Cantonese, Mandarin)

Can't read the slogan on the t-shirt? I'll help you:

"Training Servants of God's Word for Asia"

receiving the Body at the foot of the cross -- face to face, hand to hand, heart to heart.

well fortified, students, staff, and professors walk back out into the Hong Kong heat... to classrooms, study, discussions, community life, and various kinds of diakonia - a recently renewed emphasis on campus - Christ-empowered acts of sharing, healing, and reconciliation.

14What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith 
but do not have works? 
Can faith save you? 15If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, 
16and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” 
and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, 
what is the good of that? 
17So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.
(James 2:14-17)