According to goodtherapy.org, coping means: The strategies people often use in the face of stress and/or trauma to help manage painful or difficult emotions. Coping mechanisms can help people adjust to stressful events while helping them maintain their emotional well-being. I am not overly stressed at the moment, although as the year winds down, there is so much to do. I don’t have any real trauma or pain. Personally, I have some coping mechanisms, such as running and waiting to watch Obi-Wan on Disney Plus. Other strategies include eating out, discovering new coffee shops in Hong Kong, hiking, and spending money when I don’t have any.
We have about 10 more days before Summer Break begins. I can’t wait. It has been a very challenging year on many fronts, yet, I have thoroughly enjoyed teaching this year and spending time with my students. It has been rewarding at times too. This Summer Break will be just as difficult for us, probably, mainly me. People have asked how I’m doing. My response: “Coping.” This doesn’t seem to be the most appropriate answer, especially when I know that God is in control and that He has my life in His hands; however, this is my response. “Coping.”
As some of you may know, we cannot go home to Canada this summer. This is what I am coping with. I am not “stuck” in Hong Kong, but I have a strong desire to be home this time around. I miss my family, friends, and familiarity with Ontario. My boys wish to sit in Tim Horton’s, eat a Boston Cream Doughnut, have a Frosty at Wendy’s, and simply be in a wide-open space.
Am I thankful for what we do have? If I may be a bit transparent? Yes. Sort of. We have plans this summer, and we will probably be quite busy. What I need is to orientate my heart, once again. Be reminded of God’s provision. Be reminded of God’s faithfulness. I will update again sooner than later.
I really don’t know much about sailing. As a young child, my only “real” experience was going on canoe trips to Algonquin Park, learning how to portage, setting up tents and campfires. I distinctly remember one occasion when was a youth leader we took a group of youth for their annual canoe trip in the summer. This particular night, at the beginning of the trek, I was paired with an in-experienced kid, small and not physically strong. So, as you may guess, I would do the bulk of the paddling. The only thing was, a storm was on its way, the waves were already lapping into our canoe, and there was a chance of our canoe tipping in the middle of the lake. Thankfully, we did not and made it “safely” to our destination. Did I also mention that it was late evening, the sun was beginning to set, and we just had to paddle hard, fast and follow the rest of the group. My only other “sailing” experience? Having fish and chips at the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club.
I was reminded of this recently because of what we are currently going through. Last night, we were caught off guard by the latest news regarding how Hong Kong will battle omicron. Numbers are high by Hong Kong standards, hospitals are overrun, patients have been sleeping outside, babies who have tested positive are separated from their parents, the youngest being 11 months old. So the latest news? School is cut short, and we will have Summer holidays, now listen, in March / April instead of June / July. I’ve done Christmas in July, but never in my 20+ years of teaching have I had Summer in March. As I write this, International School leaderships are having a meeting, and we are hopeful that some of the new restrictions do not apply to us. This, too, is tragic because Hong Kong literally has a two-tiered education system. Maybe I’ll write about this another day.
Thankfully God’s word speaks to this. In the Gospel of Mark, chapter 4:35-41, we read the story of how Jesus calms the storm.
“That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down, and it was completely calm.
40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!””
In this passage, Jesus suggests to His disciples to get into a boat and sail across the lake to “get away” from the crowds. These men are experienced fishermen, they know the waters, they know how to read the weather pattern, seasoned men who have been in numerous storms. In verse 37, a furious squall appears, and the boat is swamped. The men must have been doing their best to remove as much water as possible. They must have relied on their prior knowledge and understanding to overcome this particular situation. And what was Jesus doing? Sleeping. In panic mode, they wake Jesus up and question His care for them. Jesus gets up, rebukes the wind and says quietly, “Be still,” and IMMEDIATELY the storm dissipates, and everything is calm.
The disciples and Jesus had a destination to get to; unfortunately, the storm “came out of nowhere” and uncontrollable factors for the disciples. Their compass was thrown off, not sure if they had a steering wheel, and other boats were with them. We don’t even know what conversations were had on those boats, but I can imagine they were not highly positive.
Our current predicament parallels this example. Our school started the year as normal as can be. We interacted with our students, collaborated in groups, ate lunch, recess twice a day, etc. – and then BOOM, we get hit with Omicron, tighter restrictions, LeaveHomeSafe App, and then we are told that Summer is now moved up to March. I feel for those who are leaving Hong Kong at the end of the school year. I feel for those who have already bought tickets to go home and visit family. There must be a huge disappointment on their part. And then there are some families who are desperately trying to leave Hong Kong immediately. There does not seem to be an end to this madness. There does not seem to be a life ring at the moment. There’s nothing, for so many, to hang on to. Thankfully, as followers of Christ, we can hang on to Him, even if it’s by a thread. Not only is Christ our life-ring, but He is also still Lord of the storm. The storm that His disciples experienced, did not come unaware by Christ. He is Creator. He is omniscient.
My compass is off. My emotions and ability to think straight today and yesterday are not balanced. I don’t know where to steer anymore, and so I need to learn to hand over that to Jesus. Please don’t even ask where we are headed. I would say, “stay the course,” whatever that may mean. I have other boats with me as well – my family. We need to head in the same direction. Christ is our sail, He is our strength. Jesus calmed the storm for His disciples and the sea became still. This storm that we find ourselves in, cannot last forever. Jesus, if we allow Him to, is with us in our boats, if we allow Him, give Him the steering wheel. Jesus will calm this storm too. After all, He is Lord. He is the King of Kings. May we not live in fear, may we not doubt but rather live out our faith and continue to be obedient to what God has called us to.
Well, another year has come and nearly gone. Another year of pandemic. Another year of challenges – yet, there is so much to celebrate. The goodness of God has been evident time and time again. As the worship song goes, “All my days, I’ve been held in your hands” is truer as each day passes. Team Wong is extremely thankful for His faithfulness, how He has “led us through the fire,” and our only response ought to be, “I give you everything, ’cause your goodness is running after me.”
And so, some highlights of 2021, and we’ll start with our boys.
Malachi entered G9 at International Christian School. He continues to do well in his academics and school life. He completed his G8 Trinity Music College of London Drum examination. We are still waiting for his results. In this writing, Malachi is practicing for his G4 Trinity Music Piano exam in a couple of days. At church, Malachi had the privilege of playing drums for Christmas Eve services at Island ECC and remains an integral part of the Youth Worship and Adult Worship teams. He has served alongside YWAM and took part in his first worship video. As parents, we are delighted to see his involvement in the life of the church and youth group. Malachi has also taken up a new hobby – photography. Hopefully, in the new year, he will have the opportunity to showcase some of his works!
Timothy is now in Middle School or Grade 6. We can’t believe that he’s turning 12 already this year. Time flies. Timothy seems quite the popular kid at school, making friends with basically everyone. Academically speaking, his results are pretty surprising, considering he is working on his Master of YouTube at YouTube University. Timothy took a break from his Alto Saxophone lessons but will resume in January. He was also on the U12 Boys Basketball team and enjoyed playing with his buddies. Timothy has grown up quite a bit and has become independent. He goes to Youth Group every Friday on his own, has dinner with friends occasionally or visits his favourite establishment in Hong Kong – McDonald’s.
This past year Gloria continues to thrive serving with Young Lives. Hopefully, we can share more with you later; however, she meets with moms every Wednesday and Thursday and has committed her time with them. On other days, Gloria spends time with the women she has met, going for lunch, coffee, or playing Mah Jong. She is definitely living the life. This past year, she enrolled herself in a course and looking forward to doing more in 2021. We are so thankful for her, making sure our home is comfortable, grocery shopping at local wet markets, and researching which restaurants we should visit and areas to explore.
One sweet note to end the year 2021, my mom is here visiting us for Christmas / New Year and Chinese New Year. It has been so so good to have her here with us. I’m amazed that my mom continues to lavish love on our boys and that their relationship is as strong as ever. The love of a mom/grandmother can never be underestimated. We are indeed thankful that she saw fit to endure two weeks of quarantine just to be with us, spend time with our boys and have extended time with the family.
And finally me. I continue working at ICS with a fantastic team, and my G4 class has been outstanding this year. They work diligently, focused and super flexible, especially when I forget that I’m leading worship for Chapel, and they jump at the opportunity to help. I joined BSF for the first time, and I’m enjoying the time thus far. It’s good to be with like-minded men who want to be in the Word, yet I so dearly miss my time with men from home when we went through Systematic Theology. I’m still involved with Young Life, and I meet up with a young man once a month and have enjoyed our conversations. He has a bright future ahead of him, and he loves God and talking doctrine! I began serving at Island ECC with Kid’s Club (G3), and it’s a blast working with different kids on Sunday mornings.
Team Wong continues to explore Hong Kong, not as much as we have in the past, probably because we have exhausted our list of venues, but do not fear, Gloria has more on her list of places to visit and eat!
We are thankful for how God continues to pursue us, continues to provide and sustains our family in this extraordinary time and season of life. To end, “all our lives, You have been faithful, all our lives You have been so so good. With every breath that we are able, we will sing, of the goodness of God.”
Friends, happy new year to you all. May you find favour with God, experience His faithfulness and goodness in your lives. Stay strong and keep your eyes on Christ in this upcoming year.
The weather outside is gloomy. It’s dark. Wet. Another T8 (typhoon signal 8) is upon us. Unfortunately, this typhoon came a bit early for some of us teachers. We probably would have preferred the typhoon to arrive during school and not on staycations or cruises. However, I won’t complain because I am thankful for the time to relax, stop from our usual school routine, work, lessons, and more school, work, lessons. At times, change is good for us. Change is much needed when we are still trying to figure out what the heck is going on in our lives. Change can be positive. Some of our good friends have seen changes in their lives. Some of our friends have recently become parents. Some have lost loved ones. Others find themselves in a season of uncertainty. As I look out the window, the weather pattern has changed even as I write.
We have been living in a time of change over the past 20 months. I won’t even go into it anymore because I think most of us are tired of it. So what’s on my mind lately? Quite a bit. I have been praying, and the word “change” has come up more than a few times. I do have to wonder what the Lord is saying to me. Do I need a change of heart? Do I need to change my perspective on life? Do I need a career change? Is it time to move on? Where? Back home?
Recently with my Grade 4 class, we went through the book of James – this is something that I have done for the past few years. James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” Do you notice anything from this passage? It says every good and perfect gift comes from God, who does not change like shifting shadows. God’s character is constant. He is the same today, yesterday and forever. I said to my class, what would it be like if God’s character changed all the time? It would be brutal. One day He forgives; the next, He punishes. We would constantly be living in flux, living in fear. The other aspect is that God provides good and perfect gifts. God has provided us with much over the past five years. Don’t get me wrong, and I am most thankful that He is faithful. Grateful that He sent His son to die for my salvation. Grateful that He has chosen me to be His own. Thankful forgiveness. Thankful for the material possessions that we have. For my family, for friends.
As we enjoy the remaining few days of Fall Break 2021, I will remain hopeful. I will continue to hold on to the Lord, trust in His sovereignty, trust in His plans for my family and I. If I can trust God for salvation, I can certainly trust Him during this season of my life. And most of all, trust in a God who does not change like shifting shadows.
4 years ago, Team Wong left home, Canada, as we knew it. It was a tearful departure. We left our family, friends, and community. Little did we know that we would still be living in Hong Kong. Since that initial day, our family has grown in so many ways.
Malachi has become quite an accomplished drummer. Recently, he received his G6 Trinity Music Exam results with flying colors. He is a member of the Youth and Adult Worship band at church, plays in the Youth Worship Team at school. He has picked up piano and working on his G4 ABRSM. His love for the Lord and willingness to grow are evident. Malachi is becoming a fine young man.
Timothy is entering G6, Middle School, can you believe it? For the past couple of years, Timothy has been enrolled in Hip Hop Dance and completed his G6 Dance Requirements. Recently, he began Alto Saxophone lessons. We’ll see how far he goes with this.
And to top it off, doing our best to fit into the community and culture, both of our boys have been attending a math tutor center once a week for the past year. Socially, they are doing well, making friends, engaged with different people all the time.
As for Gloria, she is involved with Young Lives Hong Kong, a ministry with a focus on young single mothers. Her schedule is quite routine, and yet rewarding, where she spends time mentoring and shepherding young mothers. All those years of small group have paid off. On top of all this, Gloria continues to look after our family, ensuring that we eat well, taking care of our home, and meeting with other ladies for tea, lunch, and mahjong.
I’m still teaching G4, and loving every minute of it, especially now, since we’re on Summer Break. The past couple of years have been difficult, but if you know me, bring it. Love the challenge, look forward to the changes, trusting God through it all. Health-wise, doing my best to hit the gym regularly, run at least 5 km, 3 times a week.
Much has changed for Team Wong over the past 4 years. The apostle Paul writes in Philippians 1:6 “And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus.” He’s still working on us and we continue to lean into Christ, continue to listen to His voice, continue to trust in His sovereignty over our lives.
So 4 years ago, we left home for Home Kong, however, another milestone in our lives … on July 23, 2005, Gloria and I were married. 16 years seems like a short time relatively speaking. Throughout those years, much has happened. Have we experienced 16 years of amazing marriage and constant daily happy moments? Of course not. We have struggled, argued, drove each other away, ignored each other; however, we have seen God’s faithfulness in our lives, we have experienced God’s love and have seen a transformation of our relationship with one another. Coming to HK was a much-needed jolt for our relationship. I had mentioned before that we had several counseling sessions, and for that, I am grateful. God continues to mold us, continues to teach me how to love Gloria, how to shepherd my family better, with much grace and love. For goodness sake, my Chinese name is 加恩, which means, “more grace”. I need to definitely work on that.
And so, 4 years of living in Hong Kong, 16 years married to a loving and forgiving wife, 2 active and growing boys … what’s next? God only knows. Friends, I’ll update you later with any new or exciting news as we continue to do and live life here in Hong Kong.
Thank you to those who have continued to keep in touch with us. It truly means a lot to us. Don’t forget to follow us on IG too. Till next time.
Recently I began reading a book entitled Lead by Paul Tripp. Haven’t finished yet, reading it slowly to take in some of the truths that he talks about. It’s a book on Christian Leadership, within the Church, to be specific, however, I believe the principles that he is mentioning easily applies to all areas of life.
During this unpredictable time, it has become clearer and more clearer, at least for me, that God is teaching or trying to teach me something. There is a lesson to be learned. Whether it’s to spend more time with my family, pouring into our boys, working on being consistent in all aspects of life, or perhaps I need to focus in on my skill set as a teacher – whatever it may be, I need to be paying attention.
As some of you know, I’ve been on a journey, personal goals, not entirely sure if that’s the right word, but nevertheless, my journey on running. What began like 5 years ago, back when we lived in Canada, it has taken me the past 5 years to get to the point of where I am. I can remember clearly trying to run 1 km. It almost killed me. I ran at school, during our lunch hour with some great friends and colleagues. I also participated in a 5 km run – Fork in the Road, with a dear friend that I miss. That 5 km turned into a 7km run. We made so many wrong turns and detours, that finishing the race was the goal, let alone trying to complete the race within a reasonable timeframe. My brother in the Lord, was with me all the way. Constantly encouraging, being positive as he always is.
Fast forward 5 years later, living in Hong Kong, I now am capable and able to run 10 km with some ease. Thankful. This reminds of what the Apostle Paul writes in Hebrews 12:1, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Paul reminds us first, that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. How we interpret this passage matters, however, we are told that people are watching us, there are witnesses. But the section that I’m drawn to is “let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” What is this race? I believe he’s talking about the race called life. We are exhorted to run with endurance. This is a cross country type of race. This is not a sprint. We are are going to encounter obstacles along the way. Some of these obstacles will cause us to struggle, to stumble, but we must pick ourselves up. Some of the obstacles will cause us to make detours, unexpected detours where we will have to problem solve quickly. Either way, we are to endure.
Christ, endured the Cross on our behalf. If our Lord Jesus, was able to do so, how much more, should we ought to endure this race. I want to finish strong, not just finish the race like I did 5 years ago.
Paul Tripp writes in his book Lead, “Difficult things in ministry are meant by God to be redemptive things. What often beats us down is meant by the Saviour to be a tool to build us up. What would make us want to quit is meant by him to strenghthen us for the battles to come.” Such encouraging words in a time of uncertainity and unpredictability. Pray that I may see this in my own life. Pray that you be encouraged by what the Lord is teaching you lately.
The apostle Paul writes, “I press on toward the goal for the prize for the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phillipians 3:14 ESV), and what is that goal he is talking about? I believe that Paul is talking about salvation. He is reminding the church at Phillipi about their role in his ministry, that “He who began a good work in them, will bring it to completion on the day of Jesus Christ.” I believe that we all have goals. Some of our goals may be minute, while other goals may be lofty and may present a challenge. There are days, when our goal is simply to find space for our belongings. Where do we put our backpacks, how does Gloria prep for dinner with limited counter space, how does one teach online during a pandemic, how do we successfully pull off Secret Santa with my class? Just a few challenges / goals we have.
This Christmas, we bought our boys a number of gifts, one of which was a trumpet for Malachi and a Tamiya RC 4×4 Racing Truck. The latter is going to take us some time to figure out with Timothy. The goal is to finish by the end of January so that he’s able to drive it around our village. If I were to put my teacher hat on, I would say, it’s the process that matters not the end product, but my dad hat will say, persevere, buckle up and work through the challenges and get it done.
Paul says that he “presses on toward the goal,” notice that he doesn’t look back, have regrets, or slows down – it is constant, forward movement, there is momentum. I believe that there is an urgency on Paul’s part to reach this goal, get there at all costs, no matter what the situation or circumstance. Mind you, he is writing this letter from jail. This past year some have experienced quarantine, others had the wonderful pleasure of experiencing political unrest, others, are still on the rollarcoaster ride of online teaching, face to face, back to online, back to face to face. And then others are on lockdown for the second or third time. I think you get it. And yet, through it all, God has been, and continues to be faithful. This is who our God is. This is His character. God began a good work in you, in me, in our family. God is not finished with us yet.
As for our family, some reflections on what God is doing in our lives.
Timothy. Timothy began the year in Grade 5 (yes, you read correctly) online for 6 weeks. In school, he continues to grow and mature and he is learning the value of hard work. Because of covid, there is no after school activities, however, he has picked up the Alto Sax at school and he’s been taking Hip Hop Dance lessons for the past year. Timothy is being more tech savvy, maybe too much. Our son has so much energy, constantly thinking, constantly talking. What a joy it is to watch him grow. He’s definitely enjoying life to the fullest.
Malachi, is now in Grade 8 at ICS. Who would have guessed? Recently, Malachi completed his Grade 6 Trinity College London Drum exam. He continues to excel with his Trumpet at school, and we bought him his own instrument this Christmas. Hard work is paying off. Malachi continued to be involved in Island Youth and was playing on the Youth Worship team again this year, until covid restrictions were put in place. He is becoming a young teen … along with all that entails with that. Pray for us! We are so proud of this accomplishments.
Both of our sons are learning to adapt, to be flexible and definitely more resilient this year – experiencing political unrest, online / face to face school and now covid. Lessons you cannot learn when life is “normal.”
For Gloria, it’s been quite the year. 2020 has been challenging and yet a blessing at the same time. Gloria has been involved with Young Lives, Hong Kong. She has been given the opportunity to mentor a couple of young mothers. She has also been blessed with the opportunity and privilege to serve alongside such an amazing team. Around mid September Gloria experienced a health scare, which caused us to pray more, read more, depend on God more. The medical staff was so concerned that they asked to get an MRI done immediately to rule out any possible health issues. As a result of this situation, we truly experienced God’s love and care, as well as the love from friends here and back in Canada. Back in March, Gloria and I attended Marriage Counselling which helped reset our relationship and marriage. It brought to light areas that needed to be looked at, areas that need to be worked on. We are by far from being perfect, but by God’s grace and goodness we will continue to grow. And more recently, Gloria has been provided with extra time to spend with some women and to cultivate deeper relationships with those in her circle.
As for myself, well online teaching / learning has provided an unique opportunity for myself and the boys to have extended time together. We go to school together, have lunch, snack and usually go home together as well, unless our boys have a lesson. Online teaching has provided me with professional growth, to expand my wings a little, take some risks, and to push myself. I would say that, covid has provided the best professional development as a teacher, and for that, I am grateful. I still struggle with knowing where to serve at church, and whether we participate in a small group, however, I do meet with a couple of men each week, and for that, I am thankful. Living in Hong Kong has shed some light on areas of priorities, and how me ought to manage our time well. As a father and husband, I need to continue to trust in the Lord, lean into Him more and realize that I have so much to work on. Pray.
Friends, 2020 certainly was a challenging, exciting and unpredictable. The one constant that remained? God. He is sovereign. God is always good. God is still on His throne. He is the author and perfector of our faith. I truly believe that “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion on the day of Christ.” As we enter a new year, I pray that as a family we would continue to fix our eyes on Jesus. To be reminded daily, to pick up our cross. Pray that we would humbly accept what God is calling our family to, and that we as individuals, would listen to God’s voice as He leads us, as He shepherds our family, and as He continues to grow in us. Growth takes time as we have learned over the past 4 years of living in Hong Kong. God is not done. God is still at work. May this encourage some of your hearts today.
3 years ago our family embarked on a journey and adventure of a lifetime. Little did we know at the time that we would be in for a treat. July 22, 2017 we left our home in Ontario with the help of dear friends of ours who picked us up around 1 am in the morning and drove us to Toronto International Airport. I can still remember my friend having to pull over on a side street before we even reached the 401. I was a wreck and it was causing too much stress for my friend who was driving.
I questioned whether we were doing the right thing.
I questioned whether God was actually leading us to Hong Kong.
Three years later going on four … we are still living in Hong Kong. Hong Kong has become our home and this particular year has challenging. 2020 will definitely go down in the books.
We have endured Hong Kong protests, a pandemic – and it’s not over, changes to the place where we call home, online school, online church, the list goes on and on; and yet, we can see the hand of God weaving and moving, in our family.
I no longer question whether we did the right thing.
I no longer question whether God was actually leading us to Hong Kong.
Our conversations with our boys no longer mention, “When are we moving home?” “I hate Hong Kong.” “Hong Kong is the worst place ever.” Our conversations now sound like this: “Can we go to Thailand for my birthday?” “Dad, can we go to 7-11 on our own?” and this summer, “Please go on a bike ride and please don’t come back for at least an hour.”
Over the past 3 years, I have learned to adjust my expectations, personal goals and ambitions. As a family we have found a good rhythm … I believe. We truly enjoy exploring Hong Kong, looking for good eats, that unique coffee shop, visiting different locations – we now have our favorite spots, experiencing the diversity that Hong Kong has to offer and even learning some of the local history. We have developed good relationships with people in our village, we know the names of dogs better than their owners, we have good friends – not only with faculty but families in our area and school too. Living in 700 sq feet is also not that bad – at least we don’t have to worry about what our next home reno is going to be.
Gloria is involved in Hong Kong Young Lives ministry and really enjoying her role. She meets or had met (prior to the pandemic) with single moms once to twice a week, mentoring young moms. Gloria was also part of Hope of the City, a ministry at our church that ministered to local families needing support. Malachi continues to be involved at church at Island ECC and being part of the youth worship team. Timothy is still young … his time will come. As for me, still struggling as to where I fit in at church, however, I do see my ministry at school. Thankful for the many different opportunities to share the Gospel – not only with my students, but with parents and the community as well.
God is at work. God is doing something in my life – in the life of my family. God is healing wounds and hurts, God is bringing our family closer than ever before, God is transforming us into His image day by day. He is teaching us to trust Him more. He is teaching us again and again that He is faithful. As a dear friend always said, “God is the ultimate promise keeper.”
I have been reminded that God has chosen us. We belong to Him. I am constantly reminded of who I am and whose I am. I belong to Christ. He indeed has a plan for my life, my family.
Thank you friends for praying for and with us. Thank you to those who go on Google Hangouts, Whats App or Zoom with us. Those moments are precious. As we consider what our potential next steps are, we continue to hold fast to Him. There’s really no need to stress or be anxious about it … God already knows, He has prepared something for us … like I’ve said 3 years ago, our responsibility is simple – be obedient to what He’s asking of us.
Till next time family and friends. We miss you all. Friendship is not bound by boundaries or how far we are from each other. See you soon.
Noah was stuck on a big boat for 40 days and 40 nights. Jonah was in the belly of a big fish for 3 days. Jesus was in the desert tempted by Satan for 40 days.
It’s incredible to try and comprehend that we have been teaching online for more than 100+ days here in Hong Kong. The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we live, the way we interact with people and how we teach or work. As a teacher, teaching in an International School, I am thankful for my team and Elementary Principal. The support and understanding by most was welcomed during a time of trial and change.
In the book of James, we are reminded that, it’s not IF trials come, but WHEN.
I had considered blogging my daily life, my families life during this season of uncertainty but that would have been super boring. In a nutshell … for the past 14 weeks (I think), my boys and I have made the daily routine of waking up in the morning, going to school, and having online learning. My boys would Zoom / Google Meet with their teachers at 9:00 am, while I met with 4B (my class) at 9:30 am. We took a vote and no one wanted 9:00 am.
During this time, I would have our morning devotions. As a class, we studied the book of Joshua. I would also Google Meet with other students in small groups and even had the privilege of Google Meeting with one of my students who currently lives in Scotland.
One of the take-away is that God promised Joshua, “I will be with you. I will never leave you. Be strong and courageous.” I think this promise to Joshua and it’s Biblical principle that adapts quite well to our current situation. Throughout the book of Joshua, we see how God led Israel, how He was faithful to the nation and people and how God fought on behalf of them. We also learned that God’s plan does not always match with how we feel or think.
Besides Zoom, I began to teach my class (4B) Reading online. I would do a read aloud – Number the Stars (such a good book), ask questions, students would go into their break out rooms. It’s quite an experience. I have been telling people that online teaching is by far the best professional development I have ever gone through.
As for Malachi and Timothy, they would have their Humanities and Bible Zoom. Math would be taught online as well as TAPS. Timothy on the other hand had morning meetings as well as Chinese Google Meets, which he basically missed almost all the time. We would often go out for lunch, sometimes to Shatin One for BBQ Pork and Rice, other times to Cafe Yuanyang for their Curry Beef and Egg Omelette or Korean Fried Chicken. Oh don’t forget, that we would always have a Lai Cha or Iced Lemon Tea. Sometimes we would wander to McDonald’s or Cafe DeCoral. For a break, our boys would play on the 2nd floor with other faculty kids or play with their Nintendo Switch on a computer screen I bought and more recently, on our 32″ TV. They really made my classroom their home. It was actually more messy with 3 guys than it usually was with 21 students. Go figure. At the end of the day, we would go home, except on Tuesday evenings when Malachi has his drum lessons while Timothy goes to Hip Hop. Yes – you read correctly. Sorry Timothy.
There’s probably other details that I’m forgetting, which is one reason why I should have wrote daily or weekly. Ah yes, during these pass 100 Days, we bought our boys bikes and they absolutely love the freedom of riding from Wu Kai Sha to Shek Mun. However, on one early occasion, probably within the first 20 days, Timothy and Malachi went to a nearby bike park, where Timothy decided to run into a wall. I was not there – so yes, parent of the year award. As a result of deciding not to turn either left or right, he chipped his front big tooth and now requires some cosmetic addition. He will remember Hong Kong for the rest of his life. Haha.
As I write this, we are now 1 day away from returning to school. Super thankful that we will be able to spend 3 weeks with our students. Thankful for how God has sustained us during this time. Definitely more to write and share … take a look at our pics of places we have visited and food that we have enjoyed – #goingthewongwayhk. There is much to be thankful for. We have gone through a lot as a family, as a couple, as a school, community, church. By the way, we have not been to church since late February.
Thankful for the extended time we have had as a family. Thankful that we were able to refocus and reset our priorities in life. Thankful for the trials that we had to endure. Thankful for friends here who have come alongside of us to do life together.
All to say … God is faithful. He is with us. God watches over us. He is sovereign. I don’t want to end this blog on a sour note, however, as we approach our return to school, many colleagues are stressed. Many are anxious. There is still uncertainty. I’ll let you all you know how it goes this week. Continuing to trust in the One who holds all things together.
When I was a young child, I was always afraid of the dark. Going on late night hikes into a forest would always freak me out. My imagination would go into overdrive.
I am also fearful of heights, so please don’t invite me to go bungee jumping, rock climbing, go up the CN Tower and any tower for that matter. A couple of summers ago, my family and I were serving at Guelph Bible Camp for Youth Camp. One of our off campus events took us zip lining and let’s just say, that my friend and I jumped off and screamed most of the way down. Good times for sure.
We are now currently into the 4th week of our online school. Yes, you read correctly, 4th week – with another two to go, and potentially more – actually just heard that we will be online until Easter Break – let’s be realistic. Our experience in Hong Kong for the past month has been interesting to say the least. We experienced a shortage of toilet paper. Face-masks were sold out. People would line up for hours just to be cued for a possibility of buying face-masks. We heard stories of people lining up early in the morning to purchase toilet paper. There was a real fear in people. Many people are still fearful of going outside these days. The weather has been amazing and yet, some have not gone out of their homes in the past 12 days. I would go insane. And yet, this is the reality of those living in Hong Kong, Wuhan and other parts of China because of Covid-19.
Fear also takes the form of racism. International borders are closed. Flights have been diverted. I’ve read how racism has reared it’s ugly head in Canada and in the US. Here in Hong Kong and other parts of Asia, Mandarin speaking people are not welcomed into restaurants, resorts or cruise ships. What’s going on? It seems that fear elicits different reactions, from different people groups.
What does Scripture say though? How should Christians, those who follow Christ, ought to respond when panic, when fear invade our lives?
Recently, I’ve been doing some reading and reflecting on God’s Word. Allow me to share a few of those passages and consider what Scripture says about fear.
Psalm 34:1-4 says, “I will bless the Lord at all times, his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the Lord, let the humble hear and be glad. Oh magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together. I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.”
Psalm 23:4 says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.”
Psalm 27:1 “The Lord is is the light of my salvation, whom shall I fear?”
John 14:27 “Peace I leave you, my peace I give to you.”
Philippians 4: 6, 7 ““Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication let your requests be made known to God.”
Isaiah 41:10 … “Fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
These are only a handful of passages that speak into the issue of fear. We could look at parables, and other examples of individuals who faced fear and how they were able to overcome. The common denominator though in the passages that I looked at was, Jesus was always there. Christ does not leave us in times of desperate need. We are reminded over and over that Christ is still on His throne. We are reminded that Christ is still ruling, He does not sleep nor slumber. God promises to be with us, to never leave us nor forsake us. There’s no need for panic. There’s no need to line up to purchase toilet paper or face-masks. When we take matters into our own hands, it’s really a reflection of our hearts. It speaks volumes. It shows how much we actually don’t trust God. We don’t trust God to provide for our needs. We don’t trust God that He will move and act on our behalf. We don’t trust that He will answer our prayers. It demonstrates our level of commitment to Him. James tells us that “trials are a test of our faith.” Trials will come. It’s not IF they come, it’s WHEN they come.
Fear may be defined as,”an unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm.” Spurgeon defined fear as “a natural disease.”
“Do not be anxious.”
“He answered me.”
“He delivered me.”
“For you are with me.”
“For I am with you.”
So, how should we respond? Not just with Covid-19 but with anything that may come our way.
Remember that God commands us to “Fear Not.”
Remember God’s promises “for I am with you.”
Remember to come before God’s throne “Let your requests be made known to God.”
God is in control. God continues to be at work. We need to trust him. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart … ” It does say trust with some or part of our heart, it says ALL.
May we, in times of need, continue to run the race, run with endurance, keeping our eyes fixed on Him, the author and perfecter of our faith.
By the way, there’s a lot of toilet paper in Hong Kong now.
Whatever situation you find yourself in, be patient, wait on the Lord. He knows what He’s doing.