Thursday, May 30, 2013

A morsel from the chopsticks...

Just for a slice of life... or maybe I should say "a morsel from the chopsticks": Wayne is off in the Mainland of China this week, visiting Christian churches with some of the other seminary professors, I'm getting ready for a conference in Myanmar (Burma) next week... trying to organize hotels, speakers, logistics of flying in Mekong folks from Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand... I'm really excited that among others, we'll have a Jewish rabbi giving a presentation, since few of the Mekong Christians have had (any?) exposure to the faith in which Jesus was raised! But oh, those logistics. Hotel rooms. Speaker bios. Airport pick ups. Will Buddhist vegetarian food fulfil Jewish kosher needs for our Jewish guest? Oops, I haven't gotten my Myanmar visa yet...

Meanwhile here in Hong Kong:
  • One day last week we had nearly a foot of rain in 12 hours. 
  • We have snails the size of a fist crawling up the walls of our house (thankfully only on the outside walls, so far)
  • I have killed not one but two giant tropical cockroaches since my husband is gone, and...
  • Two days ago one very large monkey was swinging in the trees outside our home. I closed the door very quickly so he wouldn't get the idea of coming inside. One of our neighbors actually once had a monkey come and grab a banana out of the fruit basket on his dining room table !

At work we got our first set of rejections on all nineteen of the student visas we are hoping to get approved for next fall's incoming students. This dismays me but does not stop me... time to start sending in yet more documentation - proof of employment, proof of previous degrees and certifications, explanations to the Hong Kong government officials of what exactly is theological librarianship or why would a student from Myanmar need a masters degree in diakonia, anyway? So I make copies, scan folders, try to find the right words for the officials... respectful but not too fawning, 

A co-worker invited two of us Americans out for "hotpot". Should I tell you the shrimp were so fresh they literally kept jumping off the plate? That was a little... extremely fresh even for my adventurous tastes.
It's a fascinating, fascinating life.
Next week -- return to Burma. Stay tuned!

Taste and see that the Lord is good;    blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.      -- Psalm 34:8

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Days of May - Finishing Strong

We... and our students... are working hard for a strong finish to this seminary academic year.
Final edits for a ground-breaking dissertation
take place at our kitchen table.

The defence of the dissertation... on Hospice care in Myanmar... is coming up next week..

First complete sermon given in English!  -- Keo, one of the Lao students sponsored by the  ELCA -
is flanked by his English teacher, classmates, and much love and support.

Yours truly had the opportunity to take a class in the History of Christian Mission.
Most important take-aways? 1) the translatability of the Gospel and 2) It's not "our" Christianity
anymore (not that it ever was a religion that only belonged to one ethnic group or culture)
Visiting prof. Dr. Bas Plaisier was fantastic as were my fellow students.
From left to right can you guess our nationalities? (Hint: they include
Hong Kong Chinese, Mainland Chinese, Myanmar, Dutch, American, Indonesian, Vietnamese
Answer on the bottom of the blog)

Ah, sometimes in the flurry of the last weeks of classes, it's good to get high.
Yes, you know what I mean.

High up on the Hong Kong mountains, with Dr.s and students.

The semester is almost at an end!!!

Breathe deeply, take the opportunity to marvel.

Do you see the rainbow?

So, last Thursday I hand-delivered the final packet of student visa applications to the Hong Kong Immigration department. We have nineteen international students hoping and praying the Immigration officials will say yes. Typically we don't find out for sure until the last minute, and only after numerous letters, phone calls, additional documents have been submitted. I can only hope my approximately two months of labour on these applications (so far) have not been in vain.

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. 
Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that 
your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 

(St. Paul, encouraging the Christians in Corinth 1 Corinthians 15:58 )


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Memorial for a Mom... Lao angels... Easter continues!

The phone calls came on Good Friday. One of the Lao student's Mom had been ill. Now she had asked her daughter (oldest of twelve children!) to  please return home to see her one last time. This is easier said then done. Student scholarship monies do not normally cover extra trips home. But after much conferring, a gift from fellow students who shared from their small monthly stipend, and the hope that the scholarship provider would agree it's a good cause, we gave the student, Chinda,  permission to book a ticket... and she caught practically the next flight out from Hong Kong to Vientiane, the capital of Laos. They were able to talk together, pray together, and Chinda was able to hold her Mom  as she passed away the into the Savior's arms on Holy Saturday, the day in which Christians remember that full day in which Jesus was lying dead in the tomb.

She returned back to LTS Hong Kong ten days later. The students conferred again, when could we hold a memorial service for Chinda's Mom?

Yours truly had the privilege of arranging the service:  Her English teacher preached, the international choir sang, the chaplain led the Eucharist, another professor led the benediction, and then Chinda's fellow Laos students sang a final hymn of hope in the Lao language.  

After the service, Chinda (left) with the preacher (center) and photo of her  Mom,
who loved the color pink!
Two weeks later the whole LTS choir led a packed church in a festive Easter Season worship with dance,

and coloured streamers

 celebrating an empty tomb. We believe it, our community celebrates it for a whole week of Sundays, and it's the reason the Lutheran Theological Seminary exists at all, to tell it and to tell it well:

The angel spoke to the women: “There is nothing to fear here. I know you’re looking for Jesus, the One they nailed to the cross. He is not here. He was raised, just as he said. Come and look at the place where he was placed.
 “Now, get on your way quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He is risen from the dead...'  
-- The Message, Matthew 28:5-7a

The season of Easter continues!