Sunday, June 27, 2010

Hoi Ha Beach

Jen here. Buddha's birthday is a public holiday in HK, so no work for Roy! We planned a day trip out to Sai Kung, an area in northeast HK known for its beauty and remoteness (compared to HK Island and the like). We had never been there, so I grabbed my handy dandy mapbook and planned our route and end destination.

Hoi Ha Beach caught my eye and the route to it wasn't too bad. We just had to catch the MTR, take a big bus, then ride a green minibus all the way to the end of the line. Yay!

Here's a photo from the inside of the mini-bus--my favorite mode of public transport in HK. Said GMB (green minibus) holds 16 passengers and will stop just about anywhere (you don't have to be at an official stop to catch one). I used to be intimidated by the siu ba (cantonese for small bus)because in order to stop, you tell the driver where to stop. Being on one, you'll hear things like "yau lok m goi," "ba si jaam m goi," "wai hong yau lok," "jien wan m goi" and things I still don't understand. So you can understand why I could be intimidated, especially if I can't speak a word of cantonese. :) This was the first thing I wanted to learn in cantonese class--because I could use it right away (and wanted to!). Otherwise, I was at the mercy of the other passengers and would just get off close to where I wanted to get off. If Roy was here, he would tell you, "If you just say anything and make eye contact with the driver, he'll stop." This is true...but something in me keeps me from speaking english...maybe my fear of being different or other people thinking I'm a silly American. One of my friends told me her husband once said, "Chocolate cake!"and made eye contact with the driver and he stopped. :) To my relief, I learned what to say on the mini bus to stop (Yau lok m goi is means "have down please" or really "stop please") but I can also say other things, with the help of Chinese friends and my Cantonese teacher (Bus stop please, turn the corner, wellcome supermarket, our street name, etc). Onto Hoi Ha...

Hoi Ha is a small beach, far out, so we hoped it wouldn't be crowded, and it wasn't! After hiking around the area and scampering around on the rocks, we had a few cuts to tend to and then looked for a spot on the beach. We made our camp under a tree in a distant end of the beach (see photo). If you look at the photo, you'll see an umbrella on the bottom right, and a Roy taking a nap under it. In the top left is the main part of the beach...that's where people would come in and look, hang around and then leave. Very few people ventured over to our area. We found later that the shallow stream of water we crossed to get to this sandy area began being not so shallow as the day continued on. By the time we left, we had to wade through water up to our waists!

What a fun day we had. We lounged on the beach, sunbathed a little, chatted, read and enjoyed the beauty of His glorious creation! Roy found many hermit crabs and I waded in the water. It was a nice break for both of us...a nice little get-away from the city. :)

Check out what was on the tree we camped under...kind of like a pineapple, but not...? Strange, but very unique.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Youth at Church

Jen here. In the middle of December I decided to volunteer in youth ministry at our church. The youth program had recently (I believe) switched to a small-group model, but had many students and few leaders. They cried out to God and asked the church for volunteers and many people stepped up! Praise God! We started newly-made groups in January and have been meeting weekly ever since.

The first student pictured is the photographer. I took my camera to youth one night and she excitedly asked if she could run around and take photos, and I agreed. She loves taking photos...and enjoyed the added element of the on-camera flash and surprising people. She's a bit eccentric and goofy, as you can tell from the photo. She is wonderful and I'm so glad to know her! Enjoy. :)

I'm in a group with high school girls and it's been great. I love getting to know them and seeing their hearts for God. I was all stages of the stages they are at. From not-sure-about-this-Jesus-thing all the way to totally-sure, the girls are a wide range, and I love it. I love them.

Our church is english-speaking, so all our youth are fluent in english, whether their backgrounds are 100% Chinese, 50%Chinese or 0% Chinese. Two of my girls are from the states, with both parents from the USA as well. One girl is all Chinese, but is from New Zealand. Another girl's parents are Chinese, but from Canada (I have met WAY more Canadians here than I ever met while living in the states). One girl's dad is Chinese and mom is American and I believe one of my girls is from Central America (or one of her parents). And my last girl's parents are from Wales, so she speaks with a distinct British accent. :)

Every time we get together, we hang out and eat pizza for the first 30-45 minutes. Then our youth and sometimes youth staff lead us in praising Jesus in song. Loud music, guitars, keyboard, drum set, and great songs. At first I didn't know many of the songs, but now I know them well and they are near and dear to me. I haven't been keeping up with contemporary Christian music recently, but am realizing the songs we sing are new David Crowder Band songs, Chris Tomlin, etc...Sweet! In the photo at right is one of our middle school students chowing down on a piece of pizza and a shy volunteer. :)

We have students age 11 (I believe) to age 18 there for youth on the same evening. After praise, we split up into small groups and head to different areas to study God's word. Each small group is age and gender specific and has about two leaders (my group has three, others may have one, depending on volunteer commitments). In the photo at left are two youth volunteers and one youth staff.

It's a great time and we see God at work in the hearts of these students. Yay!

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Simple Dinner

Jen here. Here are a few photos of the handiwork on a Chinese temple. Enjoy while you read.

The parents of a Chess student invited Roy and me for "a simple dinner" recently and I just have to post about it. :) Before I begin, I realize the term "simple dinner" may be used in order to allow for flexibility for the host. Simple dinner could mean anything from finger foods to pizza to a bowl of soup. And if one is expecting a simple dinner, it's hard to be disappointed. On the other hand, if one is expecting dinner and only a simple dinner is provided, one may be disappointed. I just found this situation humorous.

Our host poured all adults present a glass of white wine and brought out a bowl of salad and plate of fruit and thinly sliced ham. Simple, but nice.

Their helper brought out a plate of sashimi (various types of raw fish, salmon, tuna, shrimp) and some tempura (shrimp, pumpkin, peppers and egg plant, prepared in a way similar to deep frying). Mmm...I love tempura, I thought. We munched and conversed and enjoyed getting to know some of the Chess parents in a better way. As the plate of tempura got eaten, it was replenished by a fresh batch (this happened maybe 3 or 4 times). But not to worry, with four adults and two kids (and the two kids were gobbling up the tempura shrimp in a fury) you need a larger portion.

And out came some escargot in shells, topped with butter and garlic. We tried some and they weren't bad! They were actually similar to the conch we had at Lei Yue Mun. I asked the host how she prepared them and she actually bought the escargot and the shells separately and then put them together. Interesting! I could make escargot (if I can find the canned meat...and the shells...).

As our host told us earlier, out came two scallops for each person. Everyone's scallops were raw ("fresh") except mine...the host asked me earlier if I would prefer to have them seared. I definitely said yes. :) These scallops were huge--about 2.5 inches in diameter. And they were delicious. Around this time, the husband poured each of us a glass of red wine, and earlier in the meal, the wife poured us a glass of mineral water as well. So here we are, eating deluxe scallops and we have three beverages to choose from: white wine, mineral water and red wine. I've never had so many options at once. :)

So, are we finished? Is the simple meal complete? Almost. The last entree was linguine pasta with mussels and a cream sauce (delicious). Once we seemed finished, our host brought out some Chinese tea, cherries and blueberries for dessert.

What a meal! We enjoyed the conversation and time to get to know people more. And the meal was extravagant! :)

Lei Yue Mun Seafood (Part 2)

Jen here. Thus continues the description of our seafood dinner at Lei Yue Mun. I'll make this post brief.

In addition to the seafood previously mentioned, we also had razor clams. I've heard of razor clams, but never seen them. Their appearance is very peculiar. The shell is a narrow, long cylinder and the meat is pretty tough. A friend in Washington once told me razor clams would be great for clam chowder. I believe her. The clams weren't bad; in fact, I had many pieces of it. They were just a little tough and chewy. I'd like to buy some and make clam chowder!

Squid. We didn't select this one from the tank; I believe G chose it off the menu. I would have liked to see this squid in real life. Its tentacles were thick. It was meaty. I enjoyed it. The squid wasn't as tough as the razor clams, but it wasn't tender. If you took the end of one of his tentacles, you would have a hard time biting through it. If you tried a mid-section of a tentacle, it was like eating a solid, homemade, thick potato fry. Not too fishy. Good.

I don't remember if we had anything else--so much to remember! What a delicious seafood feast. :)