Saturday, February 21, 2015

Juxtapositions: Ash Wednesday and Chinese New Year of the Goat

This year Ash Wednesday and Chinese New Year Eve came on the same day. Chinese New Year celebrations are so important, even the Roman Catholic cardinal in Hong Kong gave his flock an official "dispensation" from Ash Wednesday fasting.

At the Lutheran Theological Seminary (Hong Kong) we had the imposition of ashes in the morning followed by Chinese New Year feasting in the evening.

On the first Day of the Chinese New Year (it's the Year of the Goat) we combined traditions by going on a 14 mile wilderness hike (walking with Jesus), scaling the steep climbs of the Hong Kong hills (almost like mountain goats). LTS students from Myanmar are much better climbers than their international professors from the flatlands of the Midwest (USA) and the Netherlands!

Our hearty friends and colleagues from the Netherlands.

Happy we can still climb mountains together!

Definitely the last hike for this particular pair of shoes!!!

"These hills remind us of home" Seemed to me
they weren't even breathing hard.

We did it! Here's to a great start to the Chinese New Year of the Goat...
and the Holy Season of Lent...
18The high mountains belong to the wild goats...
24How many are your works, LORD! In wisdom you made them all; 
the earth is full of your creatures...
30When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth.
- from Psalm 104

Monday, February 16, 2015

Walking/dancing/playing/teaching with Jesus in Myanmar

One of the best things in my life is the chance to see and hear some of the ways in which LTS Mekong alumni are walking/dancing/playing/kicking out demons /healing /praying/ eating/sharing/ teaching with Jesus back in their home cultures, once they've graduated from our seminary programs.
Two of our LTS Myanmar alumni 2014
So in early February I had the chance to go and visit Falam Baptist Pastor, Cer Thlia, one of the graduates of our "Diakonia" program. Diakonia = a biblical Greek word meaning service, is a program which tries to build bridges between the needs, cries, and God-given gifts of all creation -- especially the incredibly beautiful, diverse, god-like creatures known as human beings... and the ministries of Christ's Church. Diakonia is the "gospel in action".
Two cuties - the design on their faces is "thanaka",
 a traditional natural cosmetic made from tree bark.
Tatooed Uncle - I just had to ask if I could photograph him,
so glad he said yes.
Mother and Child - the area was full of garbage
and standing water...  I could only marvel at this mother and baby,
clean and pristine, faces beautifully decorated.
Four Cuties - created in God's image
 It was a fantastic opportunity to see Pastor Cer Thlia and other Myanmar friends in action with Jesus, four different denominational backgrounds (Baptist, Presbyterian, Assembly of God, Lutheran) in six different children's centers, where children and their families receive tutoring and skill-building and just plain old FUN, in some cases working in areas where there is (otherwise) no schooling at all.

They let me do some of my favorite children's songs as part
of the English enrichment. Where
are your teeth???

I hope I'll see these children again. 

Cer Thlia's friend and co-worker is the "Pied Piper" in this remote and underprivileged
part of Yangon... barely accessible by motorbike in the dry season, I'm not sure how anyone gets around in the rainy season.

Lutheran Church in Myanmar "Hope Center" -- these Lutherans
are a relatively new "denomination"  in Myanmar, but eager
to find ways to put the Gospel into action.

See what kind of love the Father has given us: We are called God's children—and that is what we are!     -- I John 3:1 (International Standard Version)