Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Focus and Perspective in Hong Kong

The butterfly is a little out of focus, but so is my life so maybe that's a good metaphor.

Wayne and I were surrounded by hundreds or maybe even thousands of these little guys last week when we went for our anniversary hike on Lantau Island last week.

 Other than the day we took that hike, I have been working non stop hours getting ready for a big Mekong Mission Forum networking meeting next week in Cambodia, at which time I have to submit several reports. The meeting was moved a month earlier this year, so it means having a month less time to prepare everything, so I have been scrambling and feel as if I have paperwork and powerpoint presentations coming out of my ears. (not a good feeling :)

Nevertheless, our Holy Week was filled with good things:

On Holy Monday we were able to welcome one of our Indonesian doctoral students to our home... with her husband and two little girls who are visiting Hong Kong for the first time. Rospita hadn't seen them since Christmas!!!! (Can you imagine not seeing daughters who are 3 and 5 years old for months at a time?) We were also so happy that Wayne's Chinese colleague could join us with his wife, too, and they provided a delicious Chinese soup to go along with our American spaghetti and Swedish meatballs. We love inter-cultural dinners!

On Holy Tuesday Wayne invited his "Christian Counseling & Spiritual Discernment" class members over for a Mexican Fiesta... and to watch the movie "Amour" (as my son told us after he watched it... it's devastating and you need some time to recover from watching this movie) However, it was truly fascinating to talk about this French film about an ageing couple, with Chinese, Vietnamese, and Myanmar students.

Laos student's family camping out by the hospital
in Vientiane (the capital) so they can be near to Mom.
On Friday we had the sadness of helping to send one of our Laos students back home so she could see her gravely ill Mom -- perhaps for the last time in this earthbound life.  Scholarship monies do not ordinarily cover the cost of students to travel home during their two or three years of study here, so we're still figuring that one out, but are so happy that our Chinese colleagues told us, "Yes, absolutely, send her. She is the eldest daughter, she must go. We will find a way to pay for it."

And on Sunday, once again, I had the immense honor of participating in a baptism -- actually, three adult baptisms at "my" Chinese Lutheran Church.  Since I don't speak the language well enough - actually hardly at all despite trying - the evangelist had done all the preparation work and I just pretty much got to do the baptism itself. What  joy!

People are hearing about Jesus in fresh ways here in Hong Kong and China, and in the Mekong, and they are saying YES! They want to be part of the New Life Jesus has come to bring.

Jesus Christ is Risen! THIS is the day when we celebrate the reason for all hope:

"If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, 
we are of all people most to be pitied. 
But in fact Christ has been
 raised from the dead..."
Paul, writing in I Corinthians 15:19-20

and that brings perspective and focus to what lies ahead... including this upcoming Mekong Mission Forum in Cambodia. Please pray for this perspective and focus for all God's people.  And Happy, Happy Easter!!!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Back from Burma

More than ever, I'm realizing that life is all about relationships. One of the best things about visiting Myanmar is getting picked up at the airport by an LTS alumnus (and his wife! I finally got to meet his beautiful wife this time) who helps me schedule my time, makes sure I get to my hotel alright, rounds up the prospective students for our seminary in Hong Kong, and scouts out the best little Burmese diners in the world. :)

I got to stay at the Royal White Elephant Hotel
this time.

where they do not go all out on their decor.
but they ever so helpfully equip the bathroom with
plastic sandals, which alas, were too small for my feet.

I was excited about the fact that there was a
hotel hairdryer! Until I plugged it in and...
CRASH, pop, BANG a big explosion, busting the cord in two and
killing all the electricity in the room. But not,
thankfully, me.

THIS, this is why I was here. Four women, four men, hoping to enroll in graduate studies at LTS in Hong Kong, in order to strengthen their Christian churches, schools and seminaries back in Myanmar.  They took English
grammar and essay tests, then a short one-on-one conversation with yours truly, who is also in charge of
international scholarships. We have prospective students in New Testament, Old Testament, Pastoral Care, Diakonia (Service), and Theological Librarianship (yup there is such a thing and it's pretty important!)

Afterwards, a delicious restaurant meal waited us.
This is what heaven is gonna be like, with Lal
taking the role of St. Peter with a big welcome meal.
(The vegetables in Myanmar are like none other, and the
shrimp are gee-normous!)
I had a couple of extra hours in the morning (before the double flight back to HK) and
thoroughly enjoyed a leisurely stroll along Inya Lake and along Pyay Road.
Ads and billboards are sprouting up everywhere in this newly "opened" land,
the gods of commerce are flexing their muscle.

February 28, 2013 along Pyay Road.
"Think of the cliche that nobody ever gets to the end of their life and wishes thy had spent more time at the office. It makes good sense, of course, up to a point. But here's a more interesting perspective: At the end of your life, will you wish that you had plunged more of your time, passion, and skills into work environments and work products that helped people to give and receive more love? Can you see a way to answer 'yes' to this question from your current career trajectory?" -- Timothy Keller in Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God's Work p. 206 (Dutton, 2012)