Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Eve

Jen here. Two weeks before Christmas, Roy and I intentionally planned for Christmas. This is our first year celebrating Christmas "away from home" (far from Ohio and Michigan, the base camps for our family). We didn't want it to slip by unnoticed or just doing whatever. We want to set a precedent for each Christmas to come, so that someday when we have a little Roy Jr, we'll already have God-honoring traditions for this awesome holiday.

So we made a plan: Christmas eve we would dress up and eat out at a nice restaurant (a romantic evening as husband and wife), a tradition we hope to continue even when we have kids and when we're old! After the meal, we planned to ride the Star Ferry to Kowloon side and look at the lights on the Skyscrapers, enjoying a quiet evening on the harbor. Aww...










Before I continue with our plan, I'll tell you how Christmas eve really played out. As the days until Christmas decreased, each check at a nice restaurant left us thinking, "What is up with HK at Christmas?" It seems that all nice restaurants throw their "a la carte menu" out the door and charge you mega $ per person for a set meal. Hmm... We decided to eat in (Roy offered to cook a delicious Jenny-meal). Roy whipped up an amazing dinner with broccoli, pasta and chicken. We had a candlelight dinner on the roof (lest I exaggerate the evening, I'll let you know that earlier that day I was grumpy and irritable toward Roy, which hurt him, but he still made dinner...and our candle wouldn't stay lit...so Roy had to tend to it to keep it going...but God is gracious, even in my sin, to reconcile us in time).







After dinner, we got ready and headed for the Star Ferry via a little green mini-bus. I wore a dress and a coat with flipflops...and later on had to take off my coat. The weather was warm! Near the ferry we encountered a Harmonica band comprised of six 20-somethings playing all different sized harmonicas to the tunes of Christmas music(see the first picture above). How fun!










From the ferry, we gazed at the lights on the buildings (see photos). Pretty neat...not as awe-inspiring as Richmond Beach Park's ocean and mountains in Washington, but it'll do. On the other side, we encountered thousands of people! Literally, thousands! We planned to sit along the quiet, peaceful harbor and gaze at the lights (notice I didn't say stars, but lights on the buildings), but it was swarming with people! See photo...and know it was like that all over. I guess that's what you get with 7 million people and two days of public holiday.

In short, we made plans...and deviated from some of them, but still managed to have a nice evening enjoying HK and the many people who live in it.
Ciao!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

End of Year Chess

Jen here. Lots of chess--end of classes, tournament and now holiday camps. The above photo is from the "End of Year Tournament" held last Saturday. Roy was the official tournament director--he did a great job. Twenty-two kids in attendance, one Roy and two assistants (me and Pierre). It turned out well. The three kids in the picture all go to ISF, our biggest chess school. And check out their sweet trophies--the star trophies are my favorite so far. Roy and Pierre did most of the Chess stuff, and I was in charge of the kids between rounds (aka: babysitting and concessions). It was a challenge in many ways...but also fun. I enjoy being around kids and getting to know them. They are so cute. And they are little people, with thoughts, attitude, feelings.

Roy is busy this week (Mon-Wed) with Chess camps. He has two potential candidates for chess coaches, and they are helping Roy with the camps. What a great way for Roy to see them interact with the kids and teach the kids!

On a different note, Roy and I noticed a strange phenomenon happening at restaurants on Christmas eve and Christmas: Their "a la carte" menu gets thrown out the door and they charge big prices per person for a set meal. Hmm... strange. Is this because people don't invite people to their homes for meals, but to restaurants? Do all the restaurants do this? One restaurant's set menu for Christmas eve cost $1500 per person($200 US per person). Crazy.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Signs of Christmas

Jen here. Christmas is coming. Crazy. I realized this a week ago, and decided to actively convince myself of that fact. Even though the weather is warm, even though it is not going to snow, even though I didn't drink my fresh apple cider all through fall, even though we didn't see beautiful leaves turning colors--Christmas is still coming. I spoke with one woman from Australia who lives in Hong Kong who said, "It just doesn't feel like Christmas. Our Christmas is during the summer, so we usually have a nice breakfast BBQ, a cold lunch and spend the day in the pool." Wow. How do I convince myself it is Christmas? We listen to Christmas music online. :) I bought two poinsettias (you always see them in churches at Christmas...and they are everywhere here too!). We put the wrapped gifts mailed to us on a shelf. We're buying gifts for other people. I'm drinking tea/hot chocolate daily. :)

The packages are arriving! Oh how fun it is to receive mail! The box Roy is holding is one package that we've received. Three others preceded this box of gifts. Thank you! :)













Here are just some of the many poinsettias everywhere. Beautiful. This is in Kennedy Town.




















And at a nearby mall, we are greeted by SpongeBob Squarepants! Happy Spongey Christmas, the sign says. Inside and outside the mall, SpongeBob and company are everywhere, making spirits bright. Ha.




















We have a plan for Christmas--Morning as a couple and in the afternoon a Christmas dinner with guests. It should be a fun time--I look forward to it! We are sad to be away from family, but this gives us a chance to establish our own holiday traditions. Should be interesting. :)

Monday, November 30, 2009

What's new in HK

Jen here. God has much in store for us in Hong Kong. I delight in seeing His working and leading in our lives. Being in HK has brought about some new things for me. Here are a few of them:

For starters, I am now a Chess student. One great way to serve Roy is to play chess with him (whether he is blindfolded or not) and to let him teach me. I am actually putting effort forth to improve and to learn chess, and I'm growing! Every Friday night Roy runs "Quads" which is a group of 4-person mini tournaments. What happens when 11 kids show up (11 kids= 4 + 4 + 3; one quad only has 3 kids in it)? Roy's wife steps in to beat the little kids! Ha! Actually, I have won all my games except two. Last week I played a boy, and he was beating me most of the game point-wise, but I was holding my ground and looking for checkmates. We took so long Roy put a clock on our game (which happens every time I play...ha)...and I lost on time. NO! My heart was pounding. He had two queens...I just promoted one of my pawns to a queen and began checking his king over and over so he wouldn't use his two queens to kill me off...but alas, it did not work. He won, on time. :( Boo. Next time...

I am now a Chess photographer. Yep, Roy's making a flier or homework assignment and he wants a chess graphic: "Jenny, could you take some photos for me?" It's sweet because I get to use my camera and flash...and it's helpful to Roy. And look at that handsome man I get to shoot photos of once in a while!

I am coordinating a Christmas tea for women. Kathy Hamilton, director of women's ministries at IECC, volunteered me to "help Phyllis with something"...I later received an e-mail thanking me for coordinating a tea with Phyllis. Hmm... interesting. :) I have enjoyed meeting with Phyllis and working out the details...and may God provide people and ready hearts and fun times. I'll be making Christmas cookies for it...so I look forward to that as well! Now to find some cookie cutters!

More later! Ciao!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Progress and Familiarity

Jen here. A few weeks ago I received an invite to Newcomers Coffee, hosted by some women from IBC, a Baptitst church here in HK. You may remember my blog about this in October--the women were a great encouragement and blessing. Vicki, the host, is so friendly, hospitable and loving. I felt welcome the second I set foot in her home. :) Ahh...to think back makes me smile.

Well, we met up again. Vicki greeted me warmly at the door and I greeted Pauline as well. How nice to set foot in a familiar place with familiar people! Yes! We sat down and chatted, sharing how things have been since last time we met. Vicki and Pauline rejoiced with me in what God has done over these few months. More than they know, He has worked mightily in my heart and my life.

For the first chunk of time in HK, I was SO lonely and not sure what to do with myself. Everything was strange, I was just learning how to use public transportation. Now I feel confident navigating to most places on the island using all forms of transportation. I am meeting people and beginning to develop friendships. I attend a womens bible study on Thursdays; we're studying the book of Daniel--oh how much I've learned and been challenged! Not to mention, I get weekly interaction with women in all different life-stages. God blessed me with the opportunity to assist Roy with three of his chess classes, so now I am able to see ~50 adorable primary school students each week. What a joy they are to me! I was even able to teach two groups of beginners the basics of Chess. What fun!

God has been working in my heart, to show me sin and other things that don't glorify Him. He unveiled my covetous heart and took it away. He's rooting my worth and view of myself in what He says of me--that I am beloved, safe in Christ, having Christ's righteousness (though I don't deserve it!), and am worth His dying for me.

God is still at work...Newcomers Coffee served as a great venue for pondering His great works. Hooray! So, praise God for loving people...who invite strangers into their home and make them friends. What a blessing these women have been to me in HK!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Religion in HK

Jen here. More footage via the Jen-spy Cam...One day I was chilling in our apartment and I heard something going on outside. I peered out the window and spotted a table with three cooked pigs and some fruit on it. People were dressed up and gathering, but just chatting. Then I saw a few of the men light some (I'm guessing) incense sticks, stand in front of the table, bow three times, and put the sticks in a pot filled with sand on the table. Intriguing. What is happening here? So I looked on...I saw a few more men do the same things...then some of the women...and I decided to grab my camera! Eventually all of them lit the sticks and bowed three times in front of the table with dead pigs on it... This occurred the day after a holiday in Hong Kong...one of my American friends who married a Chinese man told me it is like Memorial Day for the Chinese. They go and visit the graves of people who have died...and apparently offer pigs and fruit to their ancestors. Interesting religion, interesting beliefs. And I mean religion.





Pictured at left is a little shrine on the 2nd floor of our building. Our neighbors in that apartment burn a stick of incense in it every morning and evening. If you look closely, you can see one stick of it burning, and a bunch of old sticks (dark red) chilling in the pot. In the some parts of HK, there are shrines tucked in the sides of buildings, in the middle of stores and even in the evening you may see fruit or other food on the sidewalk with burning sticks stuck into it. Gotta feed the ancestors, I guess.

We all need Jesus. Whether we grow up burning food to our ancestors or going to church every Sunday, we need Jesus. The act of going to church or being raised by Christian parents does not ensure eternity with God. Knowing Jesus, and seeing our need for Jesus, does. Praise God for His glorious grace and gift offered to each one of us!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Just Kidding

Jen here. So remember my previous post..."Fall is here"? Just kidding. We are having summer-like days again. Today was warm...and I almost turned the a/c on, but I decided to take a cold shower instead. Maybe by middle of November? Praise Jesus for the glimpse of fall.

Do you see that unripe, orange tomato to the right? That's dessert. Mmm... and it's not a tomato, it is a Persimmon. Cherrie brought some to share with us at Care Group. When she first brought them in and told us they were for dessert, we were thinking "tomatoes for dessert?" but I remembered seeing them in the store. Some sort of strange fruit.

At Care Group we eat dinner and chat, then watch a sermon from the Luke series at Mars Hill Church. Cherrie isn't used to an hour-long sermon, so we take a little break about half-way through to eat dessert. This dessert was interesting--another new food. First, don't eat the skin; it is very chewy (I ate a little...). Just eat the flesh. It reminded Roy of a plum, and the texture reminded me of an over-ripe peach. It tasted all right at first, but then I had enough. I need to learn to say a firm no, even to sweet little Cherrie. I don't plan to eat them again for a while...

We have Care Group tonight again. We plan to go out to eat and just hang out, getting to know one another more. It'll be Roy, me, Cherrie and one new woman. Pray that we would form great community, rooted in Jesus.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Fall is Here

(Doesn't Roy look so handsome in this pic? Yes, I agree. ) Jen here…and I am pleased to say that autumn is here as well (the season, that is)! YAY! November brought cooler weather, 70s, and it is marvelous! A few days ago I went for a run in the morning; a cool breeze refreshed me. It took me back to the days of running Cross Country in high school, and made me run a little faster. Yesterday I took a stroll in a park nearby and paused on a park bench to watch people. Many older people, more men than women, walked along the park sidewalks, some younger people. All were bundled up in long-sleeved shirts, jackets or sweaters. Smiling, I acknowledge, I does feel like fall and it does feel cool compared to our previous weather. Praise Jesus it’s not humid!! Feeling inspired, I scribbled a poem onto some paper, and meandered home.

Now, here’s a note: I am not a poet, and by that I mean, what I wrote may or may not be poetry. I still don’t know what poetry is exactly. In fact, as an elementary and junior high school student, I dreaded the day when the “poetry lady” would visit our class and make us write odes and other random forms of poetry. I wasn’t taught to love poetry or to express myself through poetry. So, correct me if I am wrong, but I now think poetry is kind of like art: it can be anything. Just express yourself. Doesn’t have to rhyme. Doesn’t have to contain a certain number of lines or syllables. Just write, and space uniquely, and voila! A poem!

Autumn Arrives: 11/3/09
The weather cools
And suddenly it’s fall
Memories of mountains
And oceans flood my mind
Close my eyes, see the waves,
Feel the breeze,
Breath the crisp, cool air
Ahhh…at last
Awakened to God’s creation
The other side, Hong Kong
And I hope, I desire to set out
To explore and discover it
Even in the midst of towers
Mmm…apple crisp, pumpkin pie,
Hot chocolate, snuggling in blankets
Appeal to me and seem possible
Oh how I could share Christ’s love!
His passion for humanity
Reach out, meet people, invite
Learn Cantonese, tutor math
Will I find a place between
Laziness and craziness?
But God, You’re always with me
Leading and orchestrating
Placing people in my path
And giving desire to know
To love, with Your love
Who gave Yourself for me
So I give myself, lose my life
For Your glory, for Your purpose
Take my sails, turn them,
Gust a strong wind
Supply the water current
And provisions for the journey
For my harbor is safe
But You made me for the open sea
I’ll go there if You go with me.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Making Food

Greetings! Jen here. Here's a lovely photo of Roy and a dinner we ate one night: BBQ chicken, fried potatoes and corn on the cob. Mmm...it was good. I enjoyed eating the corn...it's the first time we've had it here. It's in the store in packages of 3 cobs. I paid $10.90HK for 3 cobs, which would be about $1.60US. There's my little food thought for the day.

I'm still quilting with Donna and now I am making a quilt! The going has been slow, but there is progress. Indecisiveness is not good in this arena, as there are so many decisions to be made! What pattern of quilt to make, what color fabrics, what fabric prints, which one to go where...My final decision: A quilt with stars on it, the stars will be black and white, with diagonal red "lines" (really red squares that make red lines) running between the stars. It should be interesting. My plan is to make a queen-sized quilt, but we'll see how it all goes. One day of quilting consisted completely of picking a pattern and looking through different fabrics. The next day consisted of ironing all the fabrics (they had been washed since last time) and deciding exactly which fabrics I would use and which not. On day three I cut, sewed and ironed many red pieces and some black and white pieces. I have yet to decide exactly how I'll put together the black and white fabrics to make the stars...soon.

More later.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Silly Israelites

Sunday, a day of rest. I like Sundays. We sleep in, spend time with Jesus, go to church and usually go out to eat with people. Fun.

IECC (the church we attend) is going through a 5-week series on the 5 Pillars of IECC. Let's see if I can name them all: worship, community, growth, service and outreach. Today's sermon was on outreach. Pastor Brett focused on us going "outside the camp", and one of the Bible passages we read caught my heart.

Numbers 13:31-14:4-"Then the [men who were sent to spy out the Promised Land and bring back info] said, 'We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.' So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out, saying, 'The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height. And there we saw the Nephilim...and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.'

"Then all the congregation raised a loud cry, and the people wept that night. And all the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The whole congregation said to them, 'Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?' And they said to one another, 'Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt.' "

Wow. This is a classic Israel moment. I separated it into two physical paragraphs for a reason. Upon reading it, I was reminded of how amazing and powerful God is. He gives a child to a couple who is barren...He heals people...He delivered Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego from the midst of the burning fiery furnace. He is AWESOME. And even to the Israelites...He has been so good to them. He delivered them out of Egypt, gave them manna to eat every morning and quail to eat in the desert. He caused water to pour from a rock and made a bitter stream...not bitter. He protected them when Pharaoh changed his mind and tried to chase them down with his chariots. Come on! Why don't the Israelites remember the awesome things God has done? Why don't they realize how amazing God is?

Rather than freak out and grumble, why didn't they say something like this? "Wow, God will surely deliver this land to us in a mighty way. He promised it to us and He is faithful to his promises. I can't wait to see how he kills off the giants or runs them out...He'll do something because He said He'll give us this land. He can do anything! Just think of the mighty things He's done for us already! We are His chosen people, and He loves us. This will be fun to watch."

But, no, the old Israelites respond with no faith, no trust, no delight in God, no knowledge of who God is (faithful, loving true) or what He's done for them already (mighty, powerful), choosing death instead of life. Don't they get it yet? God is doing all the work! He made them prosper and multiply in Egypt, He raised up Moses, He turned Pharaoh's heart to let the people go, He rescued them from Pharaoh and parted the Red Sea so they could walk through on dry ground, He led them through the wilderness by a pillar of cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night, He protected them from wild animals, He walked them to the edge of the Promised Land and HE will be the One who delivers the land into their hands. Not them. They are but weak and frail humans. They can't do it! God is the One. Not me. Oh sure, I flew on the airplane to Hong Kong, I am living in an apartment, assisting Chess classes, meeting a few people, but God is accomplishing it all...and preparing for His purposes. Not me. Silly Jenny, learn from the Israelites:trust in God, for He is the Everlasting God, Creator of the ends of the earth. Amen.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Sunday Dinners

Jen here. We've been in Hong Kong for seven weeks. Wow! Sundays name each week for me. Oh that's the week we went out to eat after church with the Alabama kids. Oh that was after we met the Lau family and had a large Chinese meal. Etc. I want to tell you about our Sunday meals with people. It's one of the few days where we have consistently met with people...but not the same people. I'll do my best to recall...

1st Sunday- We did nothing afterwards, but Kathy Hamilton (who I found out lived in Lake Stevens, Washington for 3 years!) introduced herself to me. She's the women's director at IECC, and I could tell. She was so sweet, kind, loving and welcoming toward me.

2nd Sunday- After church I randomly introduced myself to a woman named Renee, who then introduced me to her old friend Donna. Roy and I were then invited to eat with them. We carpooled to the restaurant (Yes, we rode in cars! Wow!) at the American Club. For the first time since we came to Hong Kong, we were served ice water (ahh...) and could choose from Chinese dishes or American dishes. Roy ordered a cheese burger and fries and I ordered a club sandwich. Ah, American food. Love it. Our group was 10 people, 6 women and 4 men, and I enjoyed meeting and chatting with the women. Praise Jesus!

3rd Sunday-After the 11:30am service, we met up with Donna and joined her for lunch, along with Merrien and Patrick. We ate dim sum (which are like little appetizers...little dumplings, filled with meat and veggies). I enjoy the traditional Chinese way of eating. The table orders a bunch of different dishes, then everyone can eat anything. It's how we eat at home. You take food from the serving dishes and put it on your plate, then eat it. I like this better than just ordering one dish and eating it. Roy and I got to share how we met...and Merrien and Patrick shared how they met. It was fun to just chat with people. Merrien is in charge of the Baking Ministry, which provides snacks after church and other events. Maybe I'll serve there!

4th Sunday-It's official. The 5pm service is our service of choice. The kids from Alabama (who are starting campus ministries on two university campuses here) sat near us in church, so we got to meet them again and chat with them. Some of them just radiate southern hospitality! :) They invited us to go out to eat with them at "The Flying Pan", a 24-hour diner that serves breakfast. Of course we said yes! Reminiscent of Flint's coney islands, we went and enjoyed ourselves, ordering omelets and getting to know the Alabama kids better (by kids, I mean people my age or slightly older...). I enjoyed chatting with a few of the women, and Roy got to chat with some of the guys. Yay. People.

Sundays 5-7 coming soon...
Ciao!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Meet the Mooncake

What is that? You eat it? Why? Yes, ladies and gentlemen, you are supposed to eat that. And that is a moon cake. I am late in posting this photo, but here are the moon cakes we received as a gift. To my knowledge, moon cakes contain lotus seed paste and a salty egg yolk...and it is said the more egg yolk in the moon cake, the better!

I did not eat this moon cake...I just cut it open to see what it looked like on the inside. I am not sure if they are going bad or not...so I didn't want to take a taste. A few weeks ago I had the experience of tasting a moon cake...I took one of the slices that had little egg yolk. It tasted like lotus seed paste...which almost tastes sweet and good, but then takes a turn for the worse and isn't so good. Donna said the moon cake is an acquired taste. Yep. Agreed.

Sorry it's been so long since I've written. Unsure of what to write, I just wrote nothing...

Thursday morning I attended another women's Bible study from our church (IECC). Kathy Hamilton's love and welcoming heart drew me to check this one out. They are studying Daniel with Beth Moore...I joined on week three of the study, which happens to be the week they study Daniel chapter 3. YES!

Daniel 3 is about Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego, King Nebuchadnezzar, his huge gold statue and crazy decree to worship the gold statue or else be thrown into the burning fiery furnace. What an awesome example of faith and boldness and backbone we see in these three men! I look forward to pondering it this week. :) I plan to continue with this study...praise Jesus!

More later, I promise. Now to go up to the roof to throw the clothes in the dryer...or, I mean, to take the clothes from the washer and put them up on the clothes line. :) Ha, same thing.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Mid-Autumn Festival

Jen here. The past few days have been unique. The kids were out of school Thursday and Friday, which meant Roy was on holiday as well! Our holiday was fun, but I was reminded that we don't have many friends or family in HK with whom to celebrate holidays. :(

Thursday was the People's Republic of China's 60th Anniversary. Really? China is only 60 years old? Wow. (Have a told you I don't know much of world affairs?) Roy and I walked amongst the masses of people, toured the Carnival in Victoria Park and later attempted to watch the fireworks. The carnival was different. Many decorations, including tons of lanterns, little game tents with mile-long lines of people, clowns, magicians, a clown and Mario (yes, a Chinese Nintendo Mario)making balloon animals...it was a fun event. I was so excited to see Chinese fireworks (would they be the same as US ones?)but tired of being around people, so we decided to watch them from our end of the island. They're fireworks...huge...you can see them for miles, right? We waited, and waited, and waited... :( There are two options: 1. We did not see or hear the fireworks because we were too far away from where they launched them, or 2. They did not happen. I imagine if #2 was true there would be 7 million people bothered at the PRC for lying to them...so probably #1 is correct. :(

Saturday was the Mid-Autumn Festival. The closest American holiday to this may be Halloween. People buy glow sticks and lanterns and go out at night to see the moon (the fullest moon of the year) and to do something...it is still mysterious to me. We went to the park near our home and there were tons of people. Kids covered in glow sticks were running around everywhere. People were picnicking on the open grassy area. Some people were eating, many were burning candles in moon cake tins, some were putting up food offerings. Interesting. There was a talent show or dance recital going on, so we watched the remainder of it, seeing some talented dancers. On our way home we bought slurpees from the 7-eleven (me-coke, Roy-sour apple), saw one family of our neighbors picnicking outside the entrance of our building and we went up on our roof to finish our slurpees and enjoy the not-so-hot weather. We sang songs to God (sweet MHC songs...) and chatted. I am fascinated by Chinese holidays and Chinese people, so every once in a while I would peek over the edge of our roof and see how our neighbors were celebrating (I sound like a creeper, but...I'm not!). So, here's a photo I took. :) This aerial shot shows their little camp, the little guy in the center of the photo is their ADORABLE 2 year old boy. At the top of the photo you will see a horizontal line of lanterns, most of them are lit. There are also glow sticks on the ground. See the red bucket on the top right of the photo? Later on they opened it up, lit some incense stuff on fire and put it in there. Offerings to some god? No idea.

So there, Mid-Autumn Festival. Roy's boss bought us 6 moon cakes, but we haven't tried them yet. There's something about a pastry filled with lotus bean paste and a salty egg yolk that doesn't seem appetizing, you know?

Ciao!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Cookies and Neighbors

Jen here. Wow, what a tiring few days it's been. God is good; He keeps being more than faithful...praise Jesus.

I woke up yesterday hearing the sound of raindrops on our air con. Oh no! I left the clothes out on the line! I ran upstairs and quickly removed them from the line and hung them up on our window guards, my rainy day clothes dryers. The A/C dries them out quick...sometimes when the clothes are outside, they don't dry out completely...must be all the humidity.

As those of you who are married know, marriage is challenging at times. Well, now is one of those times. Poor communication, grumpiness, sin, etc are at their best right now...ugh. I would appreciate prayer for Roy and me, for our relationship. Pray that God would teach me to be selfless and loving, and that God would guide Roy as a shepherd.

Ok, so now I will explain the photo at left. Here is a small snapshot of my kitchen, and more specifically, the half of the kitchen that has a range in it. The white pitcher is standing on the range (the stove). Our stove has two burners and I enjoy using it now that we have metal pans. Above the flowers is a hood thing...so I can vent out smoke or heat or whatever. Today I baked Snickerdoodles (cookies--you can see two of them on the right side of the photo) to give to our neighbors. My kitchen is small, so counter space is a commodity. I realized that the vent is metal, and we have a magnet, and I could take the recipe out of my book and stick it to the vent, so I can use the counter space that my "Better Homes and Gardens" cookbook usually takes up. Thus, that paper hanging from the vent in the photo is my recipe. Yeah!

Oh, and the flowers...Roy bought me flowers today!!! :) I did not expect them (remember I told you we have had a rough couple of days)...praise Jesus. They are purple roses...and smell like roses...mmm. The last time I smelled roses was in Washington, on a Sunday, after the 11:30am service at Mars Hill Church, after I walked Mildred to her apartment. There is a rose garden by the senior living apartments; it contains beautiful roses of all sorts of colors and sizes. Mmm... nature. So Roy chose to remind me of his love for me by buying me roses. Aww... :) I often miss Roy's other actions that declare his love for me, like working hard, letting me know when he'll be home, taking me out to eat, confronting me about my sin, serving Jesus, being generous with me, letting me bake freely, eating and enjoying the meals I make for him, etc. I need to broaden my view of love and how love is expressed.

So I baked cookies today...Snickerdoodles to be exact. I made them to give to our neighbors. Once the last ones came out of the oven, I divided them into three groups and put them on two plates and in one bowl (we only have two small plates...). Off I went to ring doorbells...the first doorbell I rang, no one answered...and I am pretty sure I heard noise in the apartment before I rang the doorbell, but after I rang it, no noise. Hmm... :) I rang two more doorbells, but no answers. Okay...it's 8pm at night, is everyone really out? Not to worry, though, we have many neighbors.

The next door has a creepy red light over it (but a red light is probably not creepy in Chinese culture) and one of those little pots with Chinese burny sticks in it...I don't know how to describe it. It's either a shrine to a god, or to ancestors, or something. It is something spiritual and we see these little shrines tucked in buildings everywhere. In the evening, we'll see food sitting by the shrines; sometimes the food has sticks stuck in it and the sticks are on fire. A burnt offering? Feeding ancestors? No idea. To clarify, our neighbor's little shrine never has food by it and is never on fire...it is just there. I ring the doorbell and an old lady answers (about 50 or 60?). I awkwardly try to introduce myself to her through the metal gate in front of her door, but she does not understand english (and I don't understand Cantonese...), so she gets her son to come over and interpret. He seems to understand, but then he goes and gets his sister. She is nice...and they all seem surprised by the cookies. They accept them and say thank you and bye. I know they understood that I lived upstairs...

I made two more cookie deliveries, and on both of them an older person answered the door...but when they heard me speaking english, they called a teenage kid over to interpret. The third apartment's teenager didn't really get it... but they eventually understood that I didn't need them to let me in to our building, I wanted to give them cookies. The mom and dad turned away the cookies at first, saying ng gaw (thank you)...but they eventually accepted them as a gift. They had an ADORABLE little 1-2 year old son...he was so cute!

What an experience it is to communicate with people without using the same language! The people at Babel must have had a terrible time. I so want to learn Cantonese...

Oh, by the way, the other day our doorbell rang. Roy answered the door and there was a Jehovah's Witness! What? IN HONG KONG? They're everywhere! Those JWs...I hope our neighbors didn't think I was a JW...maybe that's why some didn't answer. Good thing God is sovereign...He is at work, even if people may think I am a JW and not answer the door.

Pray for us to be able to build relationships with our neighbors. After delivering the cookies, I have a desire to teach people english(and to learn Cantonese!)...people who don't have much opportunity to learn it. Kids who go to international schools pay big bucks to attend and most, if not all, instruction is in english. But I bet students who attend local schools have more of an exposure to english as kids in the US have to spanish. "Yeah, I took Spanish for four years...but I only remember Hola, como estas!" Just a guess, I have no evidence to support such a claim.

Thanks for reading...and as always, I love to hear from you, so send an e-mail or leave a comment!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Sewing Madness

This is Jen, once again. On Thursday Donna invited me to quilt with her and her friend Madeline. I enjoy sewing and would love to make a quilt, so I attended.

During lunch I got to meet Madeline. She is in her late 20s or early 30s (according to my observations, which are usually off), very friendly and very joyful. She smiled for most the afternoon. She was sewing together the pieces of her quilt that she cut last week.

I ended up making a purse, because I need a new one. I only brought a few small bags to HK, one that is too small to hold very much and another that is worn and tearing! Donna knew I wanted to make a purse, so she suggested it.

She already had some fabric that coordinated well: three kinds that all had black backgrounds, white flowers and red berries. Two of the fabrics were sewn together back-to-back with batting in the middle and had diagonal stitching to hold the batting in place. I drew up a few designs, bounced ideas off Donna and Madeline, then began cutting the fabric. I knew if I was indecisive and unsure I would never make a purse, but if I just went for it, I just might begin and finish a purse. :)

We began sewing at 12 or 12:30pm and I finished at 7:30pm or so...with a purse! It took so much thinking...Donna helped me think it through and work out the complications. It is reversible and has pockets on both sides. The horizontal strip across the front of the bag is three pockets of different sizes. One pocket I designed to hold my octopus card (for buying things and for public transportation), another for my wallet and another for extra cash or something small. There is another horizontal strip (of pockets) on the inside as well. One of the pockets works well for pens...

I enjoyed sewing. It was fun, inspiring, and satisfying. It is fun to design and create something. I think God gives us this blessing...but I'm glad my purse can't rebel against me and hate me like humans did to God! Made in the image of the Creator, I like to create...with fabric, with food, with words. Think of all the things humans create: movies, books, art, clothing, buildings, music, food, etc. Everyone is reflecting God...every time they create something. Imago Dei. Amen.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Dragon Fruit

Dragon Fruit. One of the many strange fruits I have seen here. I'm pretty sure I have seen it before moving to HK, but I have never known what it is called. Apparently it is the fruit of a kind of cactus. Some say it tastes like a cross between a kiwi and a pear (both are fruits I don't like yet...). It looks so cool, though; how could you not try it?

Today I was grocery shopping at our local Park N Shop and I saw a few women rummaging through a pile of packaged dragon fruit. Each package held three fruit and was marked down to $4. Sweet! That is about 60 US cents. I figured I would take this as an opportunity to try a new fruit (just for the record, I did try a piece or two a few weeks ago in a restaurant...but I want to cut into one for myself!). In typical Asian fashion, the women were surrounding the fruit, so I waited for an opening (not what I should do if I really want to get some fruit). I reached in and grabbed one package and mimicked the other Asian women, turning the package over and examining the fruit (what was I looking for?). Then a Park N Shop worker rolled up a cart piled high with more on-sale dragon fruit. As she marked them and added them to the original pile, a cute little old asian lady smiled at me and pointed at a few dragon fruit on the cart, and said something to me in Cantonese. I think she was pointing out the good ones to me, but really I don't know. The Park N Shop worker saw me waiting and handed me a package of fruit, then another...maybe she saw the confused look on my face...so I chose the best of the two and bought it.

On the home front, Roy went to a Men's event at IECC. We had some delicious lasagna (MMM!!)...then I cut up one of the dragon fruit (as pictured above). I tried maybe 3 pieces and eww...it was not appetizing. There was little flavor or sweetness, tons of seeds, and the texture was the worst part...kind of like a kiwi. So, the Jen votes "No" on eating dragon fruit by itself. Maybe I can find another way to eat it? Any ideas?

Newcomer's Coffee

Jen here.

Take a look at the view from the steps of the Repulse Bay Club, a private club where Roy teaches a Saturday morning chess class. Beautiful. You can swim in Repulse Bay, or just lay out on the beach. If you don't like that, however, you can become a member of this club and swim in a pool, having a view of the bay. And if that's not good enough for you, the RBC has an indoor pool! :) The view is the closest thing to Washington's beauty...when we visited HK in April, this was my favorite place in HK. :) Roy and I took this photo on the way to his Chess class there. I went with him and got to chill and read. I love the view. :)

On a different note, through a series of God-ordained events, I was invited to a Newcomers Coffee event held at the home of a woman named Vicki last Friday. Vicki is from Houston, Texas, but has lived in HK for 4 years so far. She attends a Baptist church here, and runs this Newcomers ministry with two other women. There were about 10 women there, four of us were newcomers. We chatted, drank tea/coffee, and snacked on fruit and desserts. Mmm...it was such a welcoming atmosphere. The women cared about me; they showed an interest in getting to know me. It was a strong contrast compared to Thursday's Bible Study...now granted, the purpose of Thursday's Bible study was not to welcome newcomers...but I think loving people and inviting them into community should be part of our heart all the time, even at a lunch-time Bible study.

The women gave us some helpful books and resources for HK. I have been studying the sweet map book almost every day, and I look forward to reading the other books. What a great idea for a ministry for a church! Praise Jesus. :)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Day to Day

Jen here. The days are becoming more normal. I am running errands, shopping and working to be a blessing to Roy. I want to do a good job at keeping the home, you know? Keep the laundry caught up, make delicious food, keep all 400 square feet clean, figure out how to make this place look like a home.

I ride the bus or tram daily, depending on whether I want to pay an extra $1.50HK for air con or not (tram=$2, bus=$3.40). I took this photo today on my way home from a Bible study(I'm on the tram).

The sun is back; we had a lot of rain since the typhoon level 8 warning (the equivalent of a snow day!) last Tuesday. Roy's first snow (well, typhoon) day in Hong Kong! If I hadn't heard about the typhoon warning, I would have just thought we were having a bad rainstorm. Not a Washington rain, but an Ohio rainstorm. I can't even remember if there was thunder and lightning.

For laundry, we do have a washer, but no dryer. In fact, of all the apartments we looked at, only one had a dryer. The norm in HK is to hang your clothes out the window to dry. We have a clothes line on our roof (our outdoor patio which is on the roof...), but everytime I've done laundry so far, it has been raining. So, here's my dryer when it rains...pretty sweet huh? Many a cloth has dried here on our window guards.

As I mentioned earlier, I checked out a women's Bible study from IECC on last Thursday. God brought me right to the place we met, a random conference room in a skyscraper downtown. I got off the tram and wandered into a building looking for the street number so I could know whether to walk north or south on the road to get to the right address. I showed the guard the address and he told me to take the elevator around the corner. I was in the right building!

The Bible study is going through a workbook called "Staying the Course with God". It is a study on the life of Joseph and taking different topics that he dealt with in his life and drawing applications out of them. Most of the women knew each other well...so well that they enjoyed chatting amongst themselves and catching up. It was an awkward time before the actual Bible study began...people said hi to me, but made no effort to carry conversation further. Instead, they seemed to scaredly jump into conversation with an already-made friend. My mind was running and full of criticism...Remember, I am the person who loves to know the names of everyone she comes in contact with. I even want to meet the people I sit by on the tram or in an elevator (that doesn't mean I do it, but I want to...). I kept asking God to take away my critical mind. Reminds me that when at church or a Bible I need to welcome new people rather than chat with my friends.

To their credit, at the end of the Bible study, I did get to chat with a few ladies. They seem nice...I am not sure if I'll keep going to that one or not. Ciao!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Baking Fun

Jen here. The kitchen has had an exciting few days, receiving 3 cast iron pots and an oven. This is a joy to me. :)

Roy's boss Grace let us borrow an oven (from her cooking program), so now I can bake! Yay!

Check out the oven...it is tiny. The pan in it is an 8 in x 8 in square pan. And yes, that is our microwave underneath it...It is not an illusion, the microwave is bigger than our oven. :) The oven is small, but mighty. In only two days it has made 34 mini muffins, 3 loaves of banana bread, one baked apple and one 8 x 8 pizza. Mmm... What a blessing to be able to bake...and to cook meals.




And to the right you will see some of the mini muffins I made along with two loaves (all banana bread recipe). The kitchen isn't completely outfitted yet--we have no silverware. We do have at least 4 or 5 pairs of chop sticks, so I used chopsticks to get out the muffins from their pan and move them to the cutting board to cool. Fun.

On a scale from 1 to 10, my chopstick skill used to be 3. After 3 weeks in Hong Kong, my chopstick skill is about a 7. Sweet.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

More Salmon Pizza.

by Roy

Today Jenny has been using her new oven and been making delicious treats.

Banana bread, baked apples. And my personal favorite salmon pizza. Homemade crust, white cheddar, ning xia - some type of Chinese flowering cabbage, onion, and half a beautiful salmon fillet we got for $HK 28, about 3 & a half bucks US.
Thanks Jenny :)

That's one thing I look forward to about our time in Hong Kong - fresh, delicious, not to expensive seafood.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Kitchen Blessing

Jen Here. How are you? No photos of our apartment yet. We want to get things arranged and decorated...then we'll show the world. :)

Yesterday we got some furniture delivered to our apartment. Props for Roy, who helped carry the stuff up our tiny staircases. We now have a bed on which to sleep...and the bed has the coolest storage underneath it...maybe I'll put it in a photo later. :)

While Roy was teaching a chess class and moving furniture into our apartment, I was relaxing in an air-conditioned building on the other side of HK Island listening to a Beth Moore Conference. The women of our church gathered to watch it...and it was pretty sweet. Beth did it as a simul-cast on August 29th, so it felt like we were involved in the real simul-cast. We walked through Psalm 37, learning about delighting in God and the heart of our desires. It was funny to hear little southern Beth Moore relating to HK women (of course a decent # of our women are from elsewhere)...but it worked. We're all women...regardless of nationality, of one blood as Paul says in Acts 17.

I met a range of people. A fun-spirited group of 20-something women who's full time jobs are to smuggle Bibles into China. Sweet. A group of southern-accented 20-somethings who uprooted from Auburn University in Alabama and are rooting down in HK to start campus ministries on college campuses that have NO Christian ministries. Katie told me Auburn had about 10 campus ministries. So much more need here. Awesome. A few middle aged women with grown-up kids (if my age is grown up!) who moved to HK with their husbands 20+ years ago. God is faithful...giving me courage to introduce myself to people, rather than to wait for them to make the first step.

What a blessing it would be to have women approach me, eager to know me and to be sure I am known and loved in the body of Christ. So far, the older women are beating the younger women at this: 1 middle aged woman has introduced herself to me. 0 women of any other age.

Next time you see someone at church you don't know, go up to them and introduce yourself!

God is faithful and is providing, as He always does. It is humbling, but good. A woman named Donna has been tremendously friendly and generous toward me. Wonderful. Today after lunch after church, she invited me over to her home to go through her kitchen stuff and have whatever she has extras of. WHAT? Yep, that's right.

When we walked in the skyscraper she lived in, I didn't know what to expect. She is established, been here with her ishi for 26 years. Their home felt like a home! It felt like a house...except looking out the windows I didn't see a lawn and mountains, I saw the HK skyline. Wow. It smelled like a home. They had a dog. Can you tell I am amazed? When we first arrived in HK I really longed to just set foot in a "home". Not an hotel. A home. And here I was. Thank you Jesus.

You know how kitchen stuff is. After enough years, you end up with 2-3 sets of plates, 5 loaf pans, an extra set of pots, 4 pie pans, multiple glass bowls, 6 cute country jar glasses you don't use...so she gave me her extras, as much as I wanted of them. Awesome.

The ways that God provides...He has done this for us continually. After Roy and I married, God worked through people's generosity to pay my tuition, stock our freezer with pork sausage (which was really lean ground pork--delicious!), provide Roy with work, etc. He is faithful and is active. Sweet!

God continuing in his faithfulness, he provides Donna and her husband David. I think Donna and I will become friends. I enjoy chatting with her...and I love knowing older women. They've lived life, you know?

We still have a few things to get for the kitchen, but much of it is covered. And, I really did get 6 country jar-glasses. My parents have the same glasses at home. :) They make me smile, reminding me of splitting a Coke with one of my siblings back in the day. Ahh...

Life is good, God is great. Praying for direction...not sure what to commit to as far as my time goes. I have many interests, but what does God want me to focus on?

We love to hear from people, so feel free to e-mail or comment on the blog. Pray for protection from sickness, especially with Roy working in the schools. The swine flu is a bit more prevalent here than in Seattle...but then again there are tons more people here. :) Bye!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Moving on up!

Hey, Jen here. What a day today was. I woke up early out of excitement/nervousness for what lie ahead--we signed our lease today! Roy was on top of it, taking care of things by God's grace...what a blessing to be able to trust Roy and God. Roy bought me breakfast before met with our new landlord--he still thinks of my hungry belly. :) Nancy, Grace's right-hand woman came with us just to make sure things were right and went smoothly. It all went great and by the end of it we were left in the apartment with the keys. Yay. Our new home. :) I'll post pictures sometime...don't want to get out the card reader now.

The kicker of the day was that we needed to check out of our hotel by 3pm, we had TONS to pack up, and Roy had to teach a Chess class at 3pm (but leaves at about 1:30pm)...so plan was I would stay and finish packing and have the concierge hold our bags. Guess how many bags we had held? 7. Yes 7. 4 rolling suitcases, and 3 duffel bags. I probably looked like a crazy woman-"Hi, could you please come and bring down my SEVEN bags? I have enough clothes for 3 months..." haha... oh well. Slight lapse in the story here...I taxied with all our luggage to the bottom of the stairs we must climb to get to our apartment building; Roy met me at the curb. And there we were, two people on the side of a random sidewalk in Hong Kong with seven luggage bags around us...people watched, probably thinking, "What are those strange people doing? And how are they going to move all that luggage? Why did they pack so much?"

My strong ishi grabbed the three duffel bags and slung them around his shoulders, and with each hand grabbed one rolley suitcase. This left me with two rolley suitcases. Off we went toward the massive stairs. ugh. Where's our Mars Hill move in crew? We scaled up two portions of steps and paused for a break. Roy was probably carrying at least 100 pounds and pulling 120 pounds or so up stairs. We rethought our plan. Roy took a smaller load up to the apartment while I stayed back with the luggage. Sounds fine. I got some funny looks from people walking up and down the steps and one old lady stood on her porch and watched our trek (though we did exchange smiles because of the humor of the situation). As I watched them walk by I wondered, "Why don't any of these men offer to help?"

So, moral of the story is: If you see people trying to move more luggage than they can handle, offer to help! Don't just give them a funny look and keep walking. Or, if you know of someone who is moving, help them because it is a big job! And we only brought a fraction of our stuff to move!

While I waited, it began to sprinkle (we're on a Level 3 typhoon warning...level 8 means no one has to go to work, so we can all hang out with our friends...when we make some...). More people walked by. Here's how I describe the rest of our trek. Stairs, sweat, pause, sweat, stairs, sweat, pause, sweat, stairs, sweat, stairs, made it to our building, sweat! Now only 4 flights of sweating stairs left (why did we rent a walk-up???)...sweat, gasp for air, stairs...and AIR-CON! Ahh! Where's that cold juice in the fridge? Oh I wish we had a bed on which to collapse! Ah...

And here I am, hours later, my belly full, my thirst quenched, all 7 bags in our apartment, lying on a makeshift bed with my tired ishi, reflecting on the day. I fretted and worried so much about the lease-signing and rent-paying yesterday...and it went well. Roy took care of it wonderfully. God is faithful to provide...and I was stressing. Silly Jenny. Hope in God, trust in God, for He will never leave you or forsake you!

Praise Jesus for a place to dwell. I pray that we will serve and glorify God in this place. More to come later...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A God-incidence

More from the Jen:
Jesus gives life and hope, as is evidenced by my testimony of our time in Hong Kong. Life is difficult, I’ve been lonely, I’ve been grumpy (Roy can attest to that!), I’ve been sad…but God keeps reminding me of truth--I need Him. So as He holds me and reminds me, I run to Him and today is proof that God is truth. I ran to Him this morning in prayer…

The day didn’t seem to be going great, but I need to run to God for hope, not to my circumstances. Roy and I ventured to Central to the IFC Mall for lunch, and received a free sample of chocolate mousse! Mmm…delicious. Then Roy left for his chess class and I sat down to read at a table with two chairs. As is normal custom in Hong Kong, a woman came up and sat down (but she asked if she could first). I wanted to talk with her…that must be a God-given desire because it happens all the time--in the elevator, at a restaurant, at church, in a store, in the pool--I always want to talk to people. Or at least I want to introduce myself and find out who they are. So anyway, I saw her looking at the book I was reading (Feminine Appeal by Carolyn Mahaney), and then I asked her if she worked in Central. She replied and we ended up chatting for about 30-45 minutes! She was very sweet, probably about 40-45 years old, could understand English pretty well and speak decently. I had a great time. She didn’t mind talking…I think she wanted to chat. Praise Jesus for setting up that meeting! We parted ways and I headed for the tram.

I got off the tram at a Park n Shop and bought a few essentials (bread, jam, canned fruit) and a few snacks for Roy (juice and dried raisins). Yay, I get to serve Roy and love him by keeping his PB&J sandwich stash full and by buying him extra treats, like juice! We mostly drink water so far…it will be so nice to have an apartment!

We made an offer on an apartment; we may have it! We’ll fill you in on the details in good time.

Thank you, those of you who are praying for us! God blessed Roy and me to be invited out to eat after church on Sunday--what a blessing it was for me to chat with women!!! I miss that! Haha… I can’t express how great it was; what a relief. Ah!

Keep praying for these things:
Christian community for Roy and me
Apartment stuff to go smoothly and the move in to go well
Guidance and motivation for a job for me (Jen)
For us to love people like crazy for Jesus
Our marriage as this time is a strain for both of us as we are getting situated
Wisdom and spunk for Roy in his job, recruiting schools, teaching kids of all different chess levels, planning and running events, etc.
That we would cling close to God

A Meal in God's Mercy...

This is Jen; here's another one of my better-late-than-never posts. Enjoy.

Monday 8/31
Today I was hungry, but nothing sounded good.

Yesterday after church Roy and I went to a Chinese fast food restaurant…we had a hard time ordering, the way to retrieve your order was confusing and our receipt was in all Chinese. We didn’t even know if the girl understood what we ordered. Ugh. My meal ended up being chicken and rice, except the chicken was cut up but still attached to bones. It looked like they took a small rotisserie chicken, cooked it, then just chopped up the whole thing into 1 inch by 2 inch chunks. I am grossed out by bones and chicken skin, and was fragile anyway, so I decided to just eat the rice. My first bite of rice had a small piece of bone in it. AH! Do you ever eat your mom’s delicious chicken noodle soup and the bite into a bone piece? I hate that feeling. Eh. So all I wanted to do was cry and try not to get sick. Roy does not understand my strange weakness toward chicken skin and bones (I can eat KFC just fine, off the bones and with the skin on…), so I am confident he will gently and lovingly try to walk me through this. That will be difficult.

So today I was hungry, but not desiring any food that a HK restaurant may offer. But I was hungry, you know what I mean? Roy wanted to accommodate me, but I told him nothing sounded good, so he should pick a restaurant. We took a tram to Kennedy Town, walked through a grocery store (yeah air-conditioning), then saw a Japanese restaurant. We walked in, they all said something we didn’t understand--we weren’t sure if they were saying “we’re not open”, “get out of here” or “welcome!” They said it to every person who came in, we later found out.

It was a sushi bar. The center of the restaurant contained an ovular bar with chairs, a conveyor belt and 2-3 chefs in the middle making sushi and putting it on the conveyor belt. Roy kindly said we would prefer to sit at a table (He knows I don't like the smell of seafood).

I ordered fried rice with chicken and it was DELICIOUS!! It was a redemptive meal for my stomach, because I was losing my appetite. Roy ordered three different types of sushi. Here they are:

Deep-fried prawns, crab, rice(left)


eel, fish eggs, mango, crab and rice (on the right)







barbecued eel, crab, cheese and rice all deep-fried (on right)



Praise Jesus!

People.

Hong Kong ranks in the top 25 World's largest cities, with a population over 7 million.
Everywhere you go there are people; shopping, eating, talking, hanging-out, coming and going. Seems like they're always in a hurry in HK - where to...I don't know. Starbucks, when there are no other free tables people will just join your table, happens all the time.

The past two Sundays we checked out a local church. Island Evangelical Community Church. This was one of the first things we wanted to do. Even though we love our church in Seattle, WA - Mars Hill Church. And really hope to share Mars Hill sermons with friends we make here in Hong Kong, and have community gathering around that teaching.

But this isn't something we're going to do alone... There is no such thing as the 'Rambo' Christian. From the beginning God's purpose for mankind as a worshiper, as having authority over the earth - was to be done as a people. In God's words, It's not good for man to be alone. So man and woman were created, as a people, to bring forth a people to image God.

Community isn't something less, as though it's more virtuous to be the lone ranger. This is the very nature of God reflected in us. Eternally God has been one God - three persons. Forever in perfect, loving, communicating, transparent, harmonious community. A people in the Godhead.

So when Christ calls His followers to be a people, He is calling us to be how he is.
In the book of Acts ch 1 we see Jesus has gathered a people together, and though Jesus has bodily left there presence they are still a people, "All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer." Preparing together for the work Jesus had called them to, go to the ends of the earth and make disciples of every nation.

The work they began, that we are still participating in, we are not going to do alone either, we are searching for a church here that will partner with us in this work, hold us accountable, teach us and fellowship with us. We are going to be talking with some of the church leaders about this. Pray that God brings us to the right church. We had a great time at  Island ECC, it really reminded us of Mars Hill - a church on mission to the people of Hong Kong.

After church last Sunday we went to Stanley market hung around and I ate some very delicious smoked salmon pizza. BaySide Brasserrie, you'll have to try it if you make it out this way and like fresh smoked salmon. mmmm.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Gaming

This is Jen. Yesterday Roy and I took the tram to Causeway Bay, walked along the water, rested in Victoria Park, looked at a few apartments and won some video games. :) Okay, we didn't actually win video games, but we got a score high enough to win a t-shirt. There were some people advertising an HTC phone, kind of like the iphone. If you played a game on the HTC and scored over 5,000 points, then you would get a free t-shirt. The game is this: a bouncing cow is on the screen, along with many small platforms (much like you'd see on a Mario Bros game) heading upwards. The goal is to get the cow as high as you can without the cow falling to the bottom of the screen. I'm not sure how far up you can go; it just keeps going and going. You tilt the phone to the left or to the right in order to move the cow left or right (it continuously jumps). Roy played and died after ~2,000 points. Then I tried (I wanted to win a shirt for my man!), keeping my hand steady and not making any quick movements, my cow kept moving up. I made it to over 5000 points, so I won! Yay! And now we have a black t-shirt with little neon green bugs and letters on it...It was fun to get back to the kid in me. :)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Church in HK

Hey, this is Jen. Here's a post from last Sunday...better late than never

Sunday, August 30th
Today we planned to rest and check out a church: Island Evangelical Community Church. We woke up, Skyped with a few family members and made our life in Hong Kong official by me sinning against Roy. Up until this point, God poured His grace on us in giving us a few sweet weeks of still water. I don’t know what happened, but we just got along very well…It had to have been Jesus. Maybe I chose life, instead of selfishness, sin and death. But now in Hong Kong God showed me that it is so easy to choose death and it hurts. Ugh. All I have to do is to not choose Jesus, and in doing that I am choosing death or sin. It is so easy, and things go way better when we choose Jesus/life.

We left late for church, took the tram to the MTR, speed-walked to the MTR and then walked SO FAST in BURNING HOT, HUMID weather to the church. When we walked in the glorious doors of the wonderful air-conditioned building I was pouring sweat. Pouring. Like someone just dumped a bucket of water on my head. People warmly greeted us(though at that time I was in no mood for joy or faking, so I just nodded at people, wiped the sweat from my face and kept a blank face), Roy asked about a few ways to get connected, then we went to the 2nd floor service, which we were told is “More relaxed--there’s a coffee bar”. They were praising Jesus with song when we entered…what did they sing, you ask? It was all in English…the songs were all familiar: Amazing Grace, Come Thou Fount, something else. The people sat in chairs and couches. We watched the pastor on a screen--who does that? Weird… He preached on the first floor (like MHC, only 1st floor=Ballard, 2nd floor=Shoreline on a 5 minute delay).

Pastor Brett Hilliard preached about vision, his main text from Micah 6:8. What does God require of you, but to Do justice, Love mercy, and to Walk humbly with your God. His last point was sweet: To walk humbly with God is an adventure of intimacy. He shot down religion and stressed that this is about a relationship with God, knowing God. Oh yeah. In familiar words, It’s always about Jesus, it’s only about Jesus, it’s all about Jesus.

Pastor Brett shared the mission of the church. Their target people group is English speakers living in Hong Kong, whether that be native english speakers or 4th language learners of english. The church is pretty packed, ready to outgrow their space in this sky-scraper. Pastor Brett spoke of their plans for the future, maybe a church plant or creating a satellite campus or something…sounds familiar.

After the service I met Kathy Hamilton, director of the women’s ministries. Friendly and in her 50s, she warmly greeted me (by that time I remembered God’s goodness and joy, and Roy and I reconciled, so I was warm back to her). They are having a women’s retreat in two weeks--Beth Moore via satellite. I may go. The idea of southern, sweet Beth Moore doing a conference in Hong Kong is strange to me, but I don’t have an international /global mind-set yet. Foolish American.

There’s too much to recall about the past few days. They’ve been fun, difficult, stretching, God-glorifying. Good thing God is amazing, because I am a frail human on my own.

Just as a reminder, Hong Kong is 12 hours ahead of Ohio/Michigan.
Example: 8am on September 1st in Hong Kong=8pm on August 31st in the Midwest
Trick for the Midwest: Take your present time and switch the am to pm or vice versa, then add a day, if needed. We are ahead of you.

Hong Kong is 15 hours ahead of Washington.
Example: 8am on September 1st in Hong Kong=5pm on August 31st in Washington
Trick: Take your present time (ex 5pm 8/31) add three hours (8pm), switch pm to am or vice versa (8am) and add a day, if needed (8am 9/1). Confused yet?

Just remember, if we forget it is your birthday, no problem because we can call you the day after and still not have missed it. If you remember our birthdays the day of, you may be too late! ha.

Our current trend for communicating with the other side of the world is to call or Skype in our morning time and the US’s evening time. So, if you are free in the evenings, let us know, we may be free to Skype with you!

Looking for Housing

This is Jenny here...

Roy and I have been in Hong Kong for almost one week--looking for housing has been a tiring, hot journey. Many places, small spaces, expensive rent.

Over the past two days we have looked at 11 apartments; 7 of them were in Discovery Bay--let me tell you about this place of DB, as our contact called it. A 25 minute ($31HK) ferry ride full of school children and some of their parents took us across the water to Lantau Island, the same island that contains the airport and Disneyland. Upon landing, we realized that DB was a completely different place from Hong Kong Island. A wide-open, rock-paved plaza and circular strip mall loomed in front of us. We found the Century 21 office and Ranee led us to a golf cart, so we hopped on. From there we zipped along the roads from apartment building to apartment building(Ranee drove like a 17-year old leadfoot). DB felt like a resort. People walking, jogging and walking their dogs along the roads. Children flying down the bike path on scooters, adults on bikes. The landscaping was beautiful with tree-covered mountains as a backdrop. It was spacious, and we smelled freshly-cut grass for the first time in a long time. The island has two resident clubs--membership only $470HK per month per person. People on the island don't own cars, they own golf carts, or rent them for about $6,000HK per month. WHAT?

Some of the apartments had GORGEOUS sea-views of the bay, others had views of trees or mountains, some were furnished, others unfurnished. Most of them had ovens (yes!)...Sorry, but we didn't take pictures.

Our thoughts: Living in DB would kind of be cheating...it would not be an authentic HK experience (not to mention the ~$1200HK per month for Roy to commute to work every day). Though, if we lived in DB, we could watch the Disneyland fireworks every night!

What do you think? To live in DB or not to live in DB?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

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Beginnings in HK

Greetings! How are you? Because Jesus is amazing I am able to share with you our adventures in Hong Kong. This is Jenny writing…Roy and I will both write entries for the blog.
Well, we arrived! Flew into Hong Kong and landed at 6:30pm on Thursday, August 27th. An hour later we exited through security and customs safe and without hassle. There were a variety of people in line waiting to get through customs, including a group of adults from, I believe, Russia. Their passports were maroon (ours are navy blue). One of the Chinese men stamping passports asked every person who came through his line, “How long are you going to stay in Hong Kong? What are you here for?” I wasn’t nervous for answering that question--I wasn’t our spokesperson, Roy was. J I ran through answers Roy might say in my mind, “Oh, we’re here for at least a few months…we’re here to see Hong Kong and play chess”…oh, that is a half-truth. Hmm…”We’re here until we get our work visa from the government. And no, we don’t have return flight tickets…” I did not know what we would say or how it would go. By God’s providence and mercy, we were directed to a woman who took our passports, looked at mine, said some words in Cantonese to her co-workers again and again. What was she saying? She didn’t say anything to us in English--I suspect she didn’t know it very well, or maybe she was a woman of few words. Either way, after a few minutes of sweating, she handed our passports back and pointed us to the exit. YES! We made it, and we didn’t lie! J Haha…
We brought six suitcases with us; we have WAY too much stuff (mostly my clothes…), and this isn’t even the half of it. We praise Jesus for generous people who gave us their garage space (Thanks Scott and Jill and Elliott‘s parents!) and who dropped us off at the airport and took care of a few loose ends for us (Thanks Collin!). Our stuff is now nicely divided between Ohio, Michigan, Washington and Hong Kong. How many other places can we deposit our stuff?
We have now officially learned how to take the MTR (the subway), the tram (open air street car), and the bus (to Stanley, at least). We also purchased one octopus card for each of us; I am so excited about this! An octopus card is like a debit card: you put money on it and then can use it on most public transportation, at McDonald’s (yes!) and a few other stores. It is sweet…you just wave it in front of a machine and it reads it, no magnetic strip. Now I don’t have to worry about digging out exact change for the tram, or about buying tickets for the MTR; I just wave and go!
Saturday, August 29th- the day of American Food
I feel like a wimp, but today I desired American food. What did we do? We asked our concierge where the nearest McDonald's is. Oh yeah. :) We walked down the street, and sat down to eat our chicken nuggets, big mac and fillet-o-fish...only this is what we saw out the window-->
What is it, you ask? See that long, slender thing hanging in the doorway of the shop across the street? That is a dead pig. Yes, dead pig. Mmm...
Photos from a grocery store...in which I saw a cockroach on the floor, mmm.... and a polite woman explained to us what a few of the strange-looking fruits were and how to eat them. We plan to eat the produce here, but plan to wait a few weeks. Enjoy!

Witness.

You may be asking...

Why Hong Kong?

Wasn't Washington far enough West?

Why put all our stuff in boxes and move again after only a year and go half way around the world?
In a word: 
Witness.

Most of you know for the past year I have been working for Chess4Life, a company that uses chess to teach valuable life lessons to elementary school students, as a a Head Chess Coach - yes I didn't know you could be paid to teach chess either. :)
  
Several months ago my boss announced that he had been approached with the opportunity to bring Chess4Life Camps to Hong Kong, with the possibility of a setting up a franchise there someday and asked for interest from the coaches.

 
Thanks to a roommate Jenny and I had, Jenny has a heart for China (LiLi would say a stomach too), so I told Elliott(my boss) that we would be interested in going to do the camp in April. We went and had a great time - and shortly after were offered the chance to return for a year to setup a Chess4Life franchise that would be owned and operated by Active Kids (an after school activities organization in Hong Kong), with School Programs, Center Classes, Private Lessons, Quads, Camps, Tournaments, etc…

After lots of prayer, and consideration, and seeking counsel…I still didn’t want to go.
My heart was in WA. Home to me, Mars Hill-my church, community group-my family. I’m so excited about the work Jesus is doing through Mars Hill-the gospel-people are being saved, lives are being transformed, and Christians are being the church. After more prayer we finally made our decision based on one idea.

I'm reading through the book of Acts, Jesus puts it this way,
“And you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Witness - to stand up and bear testimony of the truth of Jesus. This is what we have been redeemed for, this is what we live for and have been called unto; to show forth Jesus’ death & resurrection, his reconciliation offered freely to the ends of the earth. And we want to consider every door possible where we can be just that. And Hong Kong looks like a great door.

So we started packing up all our stuff into boxes. We left the 26th of August 2009 with lots of help from our friends, some who stored our stuff, Scott & Jill & Elliott, and our good buddy Collin who drove us to the airport. Everything went smoothly. No problems with security. The flight was easy. Customs. Baggage. Taxi. Check-in at the hotel. God was in all of it carrying us along.


So let us stand for you Jesus, in our marriage, in work, in our relationships, in everything we do.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Memorial.

On great recommendation of a friend of Jenny and I, we plan to blog on our time in Hong Kong:

to record the ongoing story of God's grace - the brief sentence our lives represent in God's eternal story.
to give God the glory for everything good that is done in us and through us.
to put this glory on display for all to see, and so glorify God.
to remember and meditate upon what God has done.
to turn away from the ways we will and do act sinfully and foolishly.




God often takes His people on journey's - away from their homes - to set them free - to change them - and to teach them - to trust in Him - to provide for them - and to make Himself their new home.


And sometimes on these journeys the people of God would raise up a memorial, nothing special, maybe just a pile of rocks, but it served as a reminder for themselves and future generations of what God had done, His redemption, grace, provision, sufficiency, power, wisdom, goodness, justice, mercy, love, wrath. So they would never forget that is was God that brought them out and set them free.


...this is our pile of rocks


-God, please be in this thing, for if you are not there is no point in it, let this not be about us, but about you, change us and make us more like you, in Jesus' name.