Two years …

It’s been a while since I’ve written and much has happened. If I can even recall, starting back in January, our family made a trip to Penang, Malaysia. We were fortunate that my mom was able to join us in Penang, and we shared some memorable family moments. It was a sweet time of roaming around, having Baskin Robins ice cream, did some sight seeing, had an insightful history lesson – Timothy was so engaged and to this day, recalls random facts that were shared. Definitely ate a lot, however, more importantly being able to get away from the busyness of life. Gloria and I were also privileged to have a photo shoot by a wonderful photographer in Penang. It was quite the experience!!

Thank you Steven Yam Photography. Check his work out!

Fast forward to May and we find ourselves counting down to Summer Break. In less than 30 days, we will find ourselves back home! We can’t wait. Summer can’t come soon enough … is an understatement. The crazy thing is, this means that we have now been living in Hong Kong for two years. It’s hard to fathom that time has blown by so quickly. Two years. Two years ago we were packing our house up. Two years ago, we were saying our good byes to dear friends. Two years ago, and we were going on an adventure. An adventure that we didn’t know where it would lead us to.

Two years later, and I still have questions. I still struggle with “Why?” I think, at times, I tend to over think, over analyze and over everything. On the other hand, our boys during this time have grown so much. I don’t necessarily mean physically, although this is true. They have become more independent, more confident of themselves. Malachi has grown in his love for God. The opportunities afforded to him to serve using his musical abilities is amazing! Timothy continues to grow in his understanding of God’s word. It’s quite awesome hearing him talk and having mature conversation about God’s word during our family worship time.

Gloria and I have also been challenged during our time here. And yet, God is faithful. He demonstrates His love and grace and mercy on us each day. Thankful for His provision. Thankful for His leading. Thankful that He is our Shepherd. Has it been easy? Not at all. Have we been stretched in our marriage? Absolutely, however, through it all, God is there. He has promised to never leave nor forsake us.

What have we learned during our time? I’m sure some of our friends will be asking us this when we’re home this summer.

First, we need to be obedient. God has called us to Hong Kong for a purpose. Maybe it’s to love on the people that He’s surrounded us with. Perhaps, to take the opportunity to shepherd my class each day, to share the Gospel with students at my school, or maybe to live a life of contentment. Whatever the reason, we need to continue to be obedient.

Second, we need to remain steadfast. James 1 says to “let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” This is challenging in that, living in Hong Kong is difficult. “Count it all joy when you face various trials” (James 1:2, ESV).

And finally, well not really, but one other lesson – God answers prayers. As a family, we have seen God at work. We prayed in our first year that God would provide a friend for Timothy, and He did … the first day. We prayed that Malachi would get the support he needs academically, and we were blessed with an amazing Grade 5 teacher plus a wonderful Literacy Coach. We prayed for a place to live in our second year, and God answered our prayer exactly. We prayed for a piano, and God provided one for us – yes, we found it by the garbage dump, but He did answer our prayers. We could actually go on and on and perhaps pray even more.

Two years. We’ll have to take some time to reflect more during this summer and we can start a series of Blogs on lessons learned. Canada here we come!!

It’s a New Year

We are days away from celebrating Chinese New Year. This is the year of the Pig. Doesn’t sound too flattering, yet the Pig is usually associated with
wealth and prosperity in the Chinese culture – so they say.

Recently, our family travelled to Chiang Mai, Thailand for our Christmas vacation. It was a much needed time to get away – to wind down, to re-focus and to spend time with our family – away from the busyness of Hong Kong. We were indeed thankful. Some of you followed our daily posts on IG or Facebook, however, our pictures did not do justice to the sights and smells we experienced. We spent the bulk of our time in the Old City of Chiang Mai, experienced the Saturday and Sunday Market, drank a lot of coffee, had street food, ate fried chicken on more than one occasion and we really didn’t want to come back to Hong Kong.

Part of being an ex-pat and living overseas truly allows us the opportunity to travel and to experience different countries and cultures. We are thankful that our boys enjoy the journey and the adventure.

We are now approaching the 2-year mark of living in Hong Kong and counting down the days until we get to go home, to Canada, for the summer – yes, only for the summer. Team Wong will be returning back to Hong Kong for another season. We have been praying and seeking the Lord with this matter, and truly believe that God is not finished with us here. There were definite hiccups along the way, however, God is in control. He is the one that leads and directs our steps, no one else, no matter who they think they are.

Recently with my Grade 4 class, for our morning devotions, we went through the book of Esther. It was such a good time of reading and digging into the Word, as much as we could, at their level. We did take home a few nuggets:

  1. We need to be humble, like Mordecai and Esther
  2. Hold true to our convictions.
  3. God is in control over all circumstances.

So what? How does God’s truth guide our lives here? We need to be faithful to what God has called us to do. We truly believe that God is asking us to share the Gospel here in Hong Kong. God has allowed us many opportunities despite some of the hurdles that we have faced.

I also believe that by being here in Hong Kong, we have seen God at Work – in our own lives, but also with those who we have connected with. If we had stayed home in Canada, we would have missed all that we are experiencing. And so, we look forward to another season in Hong Kong. We wait with anticipation to all that He will do, and continue to do.

In the meantime, Chiang Mai is now a recent memory but we’re awaiting for our time in Penang, Malaysia as we celebrate CNY!

Alive in You …

Well it’s days away from Christmas, but I really wanted to put some thoughts down.  It has been a tumultuous month – emotional roller coaster, a lot of searching, praying, and seeking the Lord for clarity and direction.  

We’ll share with you our future plans and what we think God is doing in our lives … however, for now … the song “Alive in You” by Jesus Culture is resonating deeply.  

The song begins with these words: 

“From beginning to the end
All my life is in Your hands
This whole world may hold me down
But it can never drown You out”

I am so thankful that God is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.  Nothing goes unnoticed by Him.  Nothing happens on earth without His permission.  Nothing happens without His knowledge.  

The chorus of the song: 

“You are God, You’re the Great “I Am”
Breath of life I breathe You in
Even in the fire, I’m alive in You!
You are strong in my brokenness
Sovereign over every step
Even in the fire, I’m alive
I’m alive in You!”

This section of the song is where it “hits home” a little bit more.  “Even in the fire, I’m alive in You … Sovereign over every step.”  

God is in the business of walking with us, in the valleys, in storms, in tragedies, in ALL circumstances.  

Friends, this is super brief, writing more for ourselves this time – more of a record of how God is at work. 

Listen to the song … if you don’t know it.  And if you do, still listen to it.  Allow God to speak into you during this season of life whatever circumstance you may be finding yourself in.   

You are loved! 

Learning to Listen

I tell my grade 4 class – especially a few boys –  okay, let’s be honest, most of my boys, that listening is a skill. They’re not quite at the stage of understanding what this actually means nor do they understand the application of it.  It’s quite frustrating.  Teachers, friends, parents, you know exactly what I mean.

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The Bible recounts for us a story about a boy named Samuel (1 Samuel 3).  He was placed in the care of Eli and God calls him several times.  Each time God speaks, Samuel responds by saying “Here I am, for you called me” thinking that Eli is the one calling. Eli in his wisdom instructs Samuel how he ought to respond if he hears his name again. God, indeed, calls again a fourth time, and Samuel responds by saying, “Speak, for your servant hears.”

As we pray and seek the Lord regarding the direction of our family, I need not only to hear … but listen.  Listening involves action.  So many times we hear but so little of us respond properly, so little of us respond properly to God’s voice.

We have shared many times that living in Hong Kong is a struggle.  It’s not easy.

Grocery shopping basically takes anywhere from 2 to 5 hours.  Gloria needs to walk from our village to the MTR station, take the train for about 45 mins to her destination.  By the time she finds what she’s looking for, going through the crowds with her cart, it’s quite exhausting.  Oh, it would be easier if we had a car, but we don’t.  Thankful though, for the times when friends give her a ride and go shopping together!  You know who you are!!

The list could also include: hot weather in the summer, Mosquito-Pa-Looza every day,  pushing and shoving, lack of personal space, rude people that we encounter daily, the crazy amount of people who smoke, the constant grind of people walking, moving at lightning speed because they don’t want to miss a train, bus, tram.  Crowds.  Enough said.

Hong Kong is a love – hate relationship.

Are we complaining?  No, it’s just reality.  Are there aspects of Hong Kong that we love?  Absolutely.  However, this is Hong Kong.

And so … how do we hear God in the midst of all this crazy?

“Be still and know that I am God.”  

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Sometimes the question is: How do we be still?  Where do we find peace in the midst of chaos?  So much for desiring to leave the rat race.

What is God saying to us these days?  What are we hearing through the noise?  Are we even paying attention?

What about you?  What is God saying to you lately?  What do you hear in your noisy world?  Are you paying attention to God?

And so , we continue to pray.  We continue to seek the One who led us here to Hong Kong in the first place.  We continue to be in His Word.  We desire to be obedient.  Pray that our motives be pure.

Samuel was obedient and God used him for His glory, for His purpose.

Will continue to share with you our journey as we do our best to put Christ first in our lives.

You are loved.

Trusting in Him … again …

About two years ago I applied to International Christian School Hong Kong.  Little did I know at that time, we would be here on a 2 year contract.  At first, it was a “let’s just see what happens” decision.  I actually didn’t think that I would be hired, nor did it ever cross my mind that perhaps the Lord would be calling our family to Hong Kong.

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That process was, stressful, taxing, frustrating, rewarding, sad, a sense of excitement … an emotional roller coaster.  And now we find ourselves in a similar situation.  It’s contract year … already.  We’re now praying, once again, for God’s leading in our lives.  This time it’s a bit different.  We’re here in Hong Kong.  Our family is starting to build some really good relationships.  Gloria has some solid friends that she hangs out with.

Timothy wants to go home when he finishes Grade 5, and yet, there are days when he cries and tells me that “Hong Kong is the worst country I’ve ever been too.”  That’s heart breaking to hear, as a parent.  Malachi on the other hand is having a great time, although he does miss home too.  Both our boys miss our house, their own bathrooms, our backyard.

And then there’s the guilt trip that I have as a dad.  My boys will never know how to use a lawn mower, will forget how to shovel snow, build a snow fort, experience Fall, going out for Hallowe’en, and what about getting their driver’s licence?

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Recently we had friends come and visit us.  Our time together was sweet, meaningful and memorable.  Malachi and Timothy were so excited to have their friends here too.  The four of them just picked up where they left off.  That was special.  I appreciated our time to talk, to have a friend who truly knows me, knows my heart, a friend who has gone through thick and thin together.

We were able to share with one another, the struggles we were both experiencing, here in Hong Kong, and in the US.  We were able to pray for one another, to encourage one another, to carry one another’s burdens.  Appreciated the fact that we could talk things through.  I miss that.

And so … we have a timeline to make our decisions on whether we sign again or we move on.  Moving on though, does not mean coming back to Canada … sorry friends.  We would appreciate your prayers though, that we would be a peace with whatever decision we make.  That God would be given all the glory that is due Him.  That we would be wise in our choices.

Will keep you posted.

You are loved.

Typhoon Mangkhut

Hong Kong just endured one of the biggest and severe typhoons ever recorded.  In sixty years, Hong Kong has only recorded 15 T10’s … the equivalent of a Category 5 Hurricane. We’ve only been in Hong Kong just over a year now, and have experienced 2 T10’s.  This time, it was a little different.  Living in a Village Home, the outcome was, well, let’s just say adventurous.  I went out for a quick walk just to “feel” the wind and rain.  Luckily, I only stayed for a short period of time, mainly because I got scared!  When I returned inside, within 15 minutes, things were flying around. First it was just a box that landed in our “yard,” and finally we had pieces of someone’s roof that landed on our outdoor table, then the rest of the roof in front of our place.  Crazy!

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We were really fortunate that nothing major was damaged, nor did I get impaled by anything sharp or flying.  As for our boys, they were a bit scared, nervous, anxious – but thankful for Google Play and they were able to watch Coco!  Haha!  It was still indeed, a unique experience for our family to go through.

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I was reminded during this ordeal that God is still in control.  He is Lord of all.  Scripture doesn’t tell us that He is Lord of some … BUT All.  He knew about this typhoon. He knew which tree would be uprooted.  He knew that I would venture out to take a quick video.  God knew.  This was not a surprise.  Typhoon Mangkhut did not just appear.  God’s power was definitely on display.  In life, we often go through many storms.  It’s not a matter of IF, but WHEN.  Storms, trials, circumstances … whatever word you would like to use, will come, it’s how we respond.  With Typhoon Manghkut, we stayed inside.  The people of Hong Kong stayed inside.  Despite the power of this typhoon, the death toll is at a minimum.  People stayed close to their home.  Some even built forts in their hallways to stay safe.  I really have to ask myself though, “How do I respond in the midst of storms, trials?”  Honestly, in this season of life in HK – not good.

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I need to remind myself that God is still in control.  I need to remind myself to stay close to “home.” God knows the struggles that I would go through.  God knows who will encourage me.  God knows what my future holds.  God knows.  I need to take comfort in that.  I need to trust Him again.

As for clean up, the process has already begun here in HK.  We didn’t have school the past 2 days, which was much needed for all of us.  The same can be said of my own heart.  The clean up is beginning again … it’s never ending … always a process.  In my last blog, I asked, “God, why do you have us here in HK?”  … I think I know the answer …

Friends … you are loved.

“It’s just the way it is.”

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August 27, 2018.  That was a few days ago.  For our family worship time, we looked at Psalm 25.  We focused primarily on verses 4 and 5.  King David writes:

“Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths.  Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.”

As a family we noticed a couple of things here … King David makes 3 requests from God.

  1.  Make me to know your ways.
  2.  Teach me your paths.
  3.  Lead me in your truth.

We asked our boys what it means to “make me” to know your ways.  Our thoughts and conclusion is that David desired for God to make him understand His ways.  I don’t believe that this is always comfortable.  Having God make you understand something would require some time, perhaps even stress, pain.

He continues to ask God to “teach me your paths.” As a teacher, I have the joy and privilege of teaching my students daily.  I absolutely love the fact that I get to teach Bible to my grade 4’s, open God’s word and to share the Gospel – every day!  We sort of came to an understanding that King David didn’t know everything.  He needed God to teach him something, in this situation, God’s paths.  Perhaps David was not making wise choices.  Or perhaps David was simply seeking wisdom.

David ends by asking God to “lead me in your truth.”  David writes over and over in the Psalms of his desire to know God’s truth.  Here in verse 5, he’s asking God to lead him in His truth.  We know that God’s truth is the ultimate standard of truth.   There is nothing more truer than God.  If God were to lead, our response ought to be, we would follow.

So why do I share this with you all?  My prayers these days are:

“God, why did you bring us to Hong Kong?”  

Timothy’s thoughts are, “I want to go back to Canada, forever.”

A year ago we came to HK, left basically everything to come, to be obedient to His leading, His calling.  Was it a mistake?  Did we “hear” wrong?  Was there some kind of miscommunication?  I don’t think so … however, living in Hong Kong, working in Hong Kong, daily life in Hong Kong, is a constant struggle.  Personally I struggle with the culture, I struggle with how things are.  “It’s just the way it is” doesn’t cut it for me anymore.  That seems to be the answer every time there’s a question.

So what?  Psalm 25 was somewhat convicting.  I need to be praying … “Lord, make me to know your ways, teach me your paths and lead me in your truth.”  I also need to be prepared for God’s answer as well.

Verse 9 and 10 of Psalm 25 reads, “He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble His way.  All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep His covenant and his His testimonies.”  There is hope.  Thankful that God’s love for our family is steadfast.  Thankful that God is faithful even when we are faithless.  And so, like King David writes at the end of verse 5 … “for you I wait all the day long.”

Pray that we would be teachable and humble during this season of our life.  After all, this is Hong Kong.

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TCP? TCF? Third Culture Parenting / Family?

img_8802Recently a good friend of ours here in Hong Kong posted a couple of articles on the topic of TCK’s.  Some of you may be wondering what this is.  We actually didn’t even know of this term until last year at some point and then questions and thoughts started to come about.  So what does TCK stand for?  Third Culture Kid.  Basically, a TCK is “a term describing people who spend a significant part of childhood living outside their passport countries.” (Tanya Crossman, The Three Cultures of a Third Culture Kid).

Gloria and I have had questions and thoughts about this – more of a reaction due to one of our sons desires to go back home.  You can see even here, that I consider home as Canada, although Hong Kong is home for us, at this moment, time, space.

How much does one have to immerse themselves into their new culture?  When do you draw the line?  Do you really have to “accept” everything your new country has to offer? Is it wrong for us to be “Canadians living in Hong Kong?”  Not only do our boys have to adjust, we do too.

Have I completely immersed myself into HK culture?  Quick answer: No.

Do I feel completely at home in HK?  Not really.

Are there things that really bother me?  Absolutely.

Are there aspects of Hong Kong simply amazing?  Yes!

And so this thought quickly turned my attention to TCP.  Third Culture Parenting.  Trying to parent children in a new culture and place, while trying to adjust yourself is quite trying at times and honestly, tiring.  We have questions, like, “Are we parenting our boys affectively here in HK?”  Are our boys immersed or just going through the days and months with an end knowing that we are going back to Canada next summer?

I’m not so sure if I have answers at the moment, however, something worth thinking through and seeking some counsel and wisdom.

As our family continues to enjoy this journey, we are thankful (although not all the time) for the many different opportunities that have been afforded to us.  We do continue to seek God with all matters, asking for wisdom and discernment.

Allow me to end this by asking, “Are we really a Third Culture Family?” or just passing through until God calls us somewhere else or back to Canada?

Until later … need some time to really wrap my mind about this and will share more.

You are loved.

365

365.

One year. 

So much has happened.  

Blogging consistently is not my forte.  Posting pics on Social Media?  Well, that’s pretty easy, even our boys are doing it!!  

It’s hard to imagine that we have now been in Hong Kong for one year.  A year ago, we were on the way to the airport with our dear friends.  I can still remember it like it was yesterday.  Watching Malachi run back into our house, one last time, it was so difficult.  Saying good bye to my mom and brother – it was like having your heart taken out, yet we still came.  

Now that we’ve been here a year, it’s time to reflect on the lesson’s learned.  

We are thankful for God’s provision, His hand of protection and how He continues to sustain us and provide for our family.  Trust me, there have been many days where we’ve wanted to come home.  Days where we questioned God – why did you bring us to Hong Kong?  This has actually been a conversation that we have had more recently than not.  

This blog unfortunately is not all hype and excitement nor celebratory.  Just a heads up.

Our Facebook and Instagram pages may paint a different story – Food, travel, Food, adventures, however, the struggle is real.  We struggle with not having a vehicle.  We struggle with how the culture of Hong Kong is so different than home.  We struggle with the people.  We struggle with not living in our own home back in Brooklin.  BUT … we knew this coming here.  However, we still struggle. In short, it’s been a challenging year. 

On the other hand, we have been blessed and thankful for the opportunities to travel, to explore, go on adventures.  This past year alone, our family visited Kuala Lumpur, Cambodia, Osaka, Kyoto, and Macau.  We’re already planning trips to Thailand and Taiwan.  We would never have had these opportunities if we were still living in Canada.  There are definitely trade offs.  

So what have we learned?  What has God taught us?  

Today also marked our 13th wedding anniversary.  Gloria and I celebrated by going out for lunch at Festival Walk.  Thankful for good friends who looked after our boys.  

During lunch, Gloria asked me how I’m enjoying Hong Kong.  On the surface, it’s okay la.  Experiencing the culture, the food, the sights and YET, there’s still a sense of wanting to belong, a longing to have community.  The friends that we have here, are great and there are those whom I believe will be life long friends.  

I shared that I do love the fact that we can travel and share this time with one another, with our boys.  These are memories that we will have.  

So what is God or what has God taught me?  

  1. I need Him.  We need Him.  We can’t do this on our own strength.  We need to rely on God daily.  He’s also the same God that lead us to Hong Kong.  God didn’t bring us here all the way from Brooklin, Ontario, just to leave us.  
  2. Everything is not always going to be perfect.  Need to recognize this.  We are living in Hong Kong.  Will share more at an appropriate time.  
  3. Humble dependence.  This really goes back to the first point.  

God continues to reveal so much about my heart. Areas in which I need to surrender more and more.  He must increase, I must decrease.

And so, the million dollar question for us at times is: When do we go home?  Or as Timothy would say, “Daddy, when are we going back to Canada forever?” My response to our son, pray.  Pray and ask God for His leading.  In the meantime, we are here.  

Pray that we would continue to be faithful.  Pray that we would seek out opportunities to continue to serve our Lord.  Pray that I would lead and shepherd my family better.  

Till next time. 

Dan 

Donuts, Food and Life

Well friends, it definitely has been a while since we last posted anything and to try and catch up would be almost impossible.  Our family has settled more in Hong Kong and trying establish some better norms; however, that too poses difficulties.  I’ll share more in another Blog.

Let’s talk about Malaysia.  Our family took a long awaited trip to Malaysia during our Spring Break.  Long awaited because it’s been a desire of ours to travel and timing, of course is everything.  And so, our family embarked on our first ever overseas trip.  Follow #travelingthewongwayhk on Instagram for more pics of our time in KL, Malaysia, plus other trips we plan on taking … including this summer!!  We are going to …

Malaysia is such a beautiful country.  We experienced the sites, the sounds, and of course the food.  For this particular Blog, Malachi and Timothy will share briefly some of their thoughts and favourite places and foods!!

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Malachi’s Top 5 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Memories.

1. Twin Towers – One of my favourite things to do in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia was going to the Petronas Towers because I didn’t know if I would ever see it! Also, I like that we found Wendy’s. I had a cheeseburger that tasted like home.

2. KL Aquaria – The second thing that I liked was visiting KL Aquaria. There were some fish that I have never seen before. It reminded me of the aquarium in Toronto, Canada.

3. China Town – When we were there, there was a big storm that flooded some parts of the road. Besides the flood, we had some yummy food such as Laksa. I also got an Ice Watch.

4. Central Market KL – At Central Market, in order to go to the toilet, we had to pay 0.50 RM. I had mint ice cream.  My parents also bought me a wooden keychain that had my name in it.

5. Bird Park – Lastly the Bird Park was super cool to see birds fly all over the place. It is the largest free-flying places that birds can fly. We saw peacocks, owls and some weird bird that made sounds that sounded like a computer.

This was a very a fun and memorable time in Malaysia!

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Life in KL, Malaysia by Timothy Wong. 

Our family was in KL, Malaysia for 10 days.  We went to Chinatown to have Laksa.  Laksa is very yummy.  We also bought some Beef Jerky and it was juicy.  We stayed at Ambassador Row and Hotel Suites, and the beds were very, very, very comfy.  I also celebrated my 8th Birthday in KL!! For my birthday, I had Dominoes Pizza!!  While we were at KL, we visited KL Aquaria.  There were people feeding the sharks and fish.  I loved KL and I would like to go back some day.

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Friends, there you have it.  Our family did enjoy ourselves quite a bit in KL and have already talked about visiting again.  This time we will probably go to Penang.  Thanks for joining us, for reading our Blogs and staying in touch.  If you’ve ever been to Malaysia, we would love to hear about your Top choices in Malaysia.

We will be posting a Vlog sometime soon on our YouTube Channel: Going the Wong Way HK as well.  Stay tuned!!

We’ll do our best to post / blog once a week … getting back on track!!

You are loved.