100+ Days

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.

Wearing our masks every where we go.

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.

Kennedy Town, Instagram Pier

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.

Timothy is a trooper. Pic taken at Tai Shui Hang

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.

You are loved.

#fear

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.

“HK taxis by the Star Ferry”

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.

“view from Lion Rock”

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.

  1. Remember that God commands us to “Fear Not.”
  2. Remember God’s promises “for I am with you.”
  3. 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.

“family photo sans face masks”

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.

Friends, you are loved.