So Much to Celebrate

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.

You are loved.

Finding Peace in the Midst of Chaos

About 6 months ago, my family and I made a much anticipated trip back home to Canada. It marked 2 years of living in Hong Kong. 2 years of living in a city that challenged our family daily. 2 years of working at International Christian School. 2 years away from our family and friends. It was a long 730 days away from a place that we called Home.

It was also 6 months ago, that Hong Kong, our new home, under went some major turmoil. Politically speaking, the people of Hong Kong were angry, upset, frustrated with the direction of the HK government. Unfortunately, 6 months later, the unrest has not stopped. In fact, I think Hong Kongers are more angry and determined to “fight for freedom” than ever before. They are fighting for what they believe in. Fighting for their convictions.

Over the past 6 months we have observed: 2 million people peacefully marching the streets, HKongers holding hands in peaceful protests, we have also seen the destruction of malls, shops and much more. We have observed the MTR being flooded, vandalized. We were even asked to leave a MTR station recently. There’s graffiti everywhere – our boys vocabulary has increased, so has mine! People are being arrested, tear gas every weekend, and now almost every day, riot police, chanting at 10 pm, the singing of Glory to Hong Kong. The list could potentially go on and on. And the question remains. When will this all come to an end?

If last the couple of days is any indication, then the end is not in sight. November 11 was not a good day. November 12 evening, was a terrible sight. November 13 … today, we went out to do some grocery shopping, “just in case.”

3 years ago, when we came to Hong Kong, we questioned God. We asked, “WHY?” Up until this past summer, I still asked “Why? Why God? Why did you bring us to Hong Kong?” Over the past few months, I believe that God is answering our prayer … “For such a time as this.”

Our family has settled much better this year. Our boys are experiencing a better year at school. Timothy has found some good friends. Malachi continues to grow in Middle School. It’s challenging for him and for us, however, he’s making some gains – now only if others could see how much he has grown over the past few years.

The book of Esther, if you are familiar with it, is a story of how Esther was brought out of her home country into a land that she was not familiar with. Because of her beauty, she became Queen. During her time, the Jews found themselves in a difficult situation, where certain individuals wanted them wiped out. God used Esther to save the Jews. It’s a story of God’s sovereignty. It’s a story of God’s faithfulness. Now obviously, we are not equating ourselves to Esther, however, the circumstances of her life, do somewhat, sort of parallel our journey to Hong Kong.

We have seen God’s faithfulness over the past 3 years. We know that God is sovereign and that we are here in Hong Kong because of His plan for our lives. God has used both Gloria and I over the past few years. We are truly thankful for the little moments as well as big moments where God has given us the opportunity to shepherd and to disciple others. And yet, in the midst of much chaos these days, even as I write, we do find peace. Peace in knowing that Hong Kong is where we ought to be. Peace in knowing that God is with us. Peace in understanding that God has us here to grow, to mold us, and to shape us into His image.

Dear friends. Hong Kong is in turmoil. Parts of Hong Kong looks like, sounds like and smells like a war zone … but God is at work. He is still on His throne. God never sleeps nor slumbers. He promises to never leave us nor forsake us. He is the ultimate promise keeper. God is faithful.

Do keep us in your prayers. Please continue to pray for Hong Kong. More importantly, please pray that people would come to know Christ. That many would have a relationship with Jesus. That God would continue to use our family and many others for His Kingdom.

You are loved.

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!

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 

2018 … what’s next?

Happy New Year friends!  

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It’s been quite a while since we have shared with you on our Blog and what better time than now to update you with what’s been going on with Team Wong.  

For the past month we have continued with our galavanting around Hong Kong, going to different restaurants, sites and eventually ending up at the Happiest Place on Earth!  Yes, Disneyland!  We love Disney!  It was definitely our happy place.  

As we approach New Year’s in a couple of hours, there is much to reflect on.  There is much to be thankful for.  There is much to consider.  

2017 has been a year of change in our family, if you haven’t guessed already!  Haha!  As I reflect back on what God has done, what He is doing, it’s amazing that we’ve lasted Hong Kong as long as we have.   

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Our time in Hong Kong has been challenging in many ways.  We continue to look for a church that we can call home.  I believe that God is working in my heart with regards to this.  Not sure what the lesson is at this moment, however, I do know that I need to be in the Word consistently and be praying more fervently.  Our Family Worship during  this season of life has been way too sporadic, and that’s my fault for not leading better.  This indeed is an area of my life that I need to work on in the New Year.  

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As for fellowship is concerned, our SG is growing closer to one another.  We continue to study the book of Colossians and hope to be done soon, however, the time spent digging into the Word together has been meaningful and it’s a joy to lead, even though there are days when I feel so inadequate.  I think the fact that we all (with the exception of one member) have a Harvest Bible Chapel connection has bonded us quickly.  We actually call ourselves Harvest Hong Kong (unofficially) but our love for the Word and Worship that we have all experienced at Harvest Brampton, York or Durham bring us together like family.  

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I have appreciated my time teaching at ICS.  The faculty, leadership are encouraging and I absolutely love my class.  My students are so much fun!! Every year, students have given me a number of different nicknames, ranging from Wong to Wongy to Mr. W and now, Mr. Ping Pong, Mr. Kapong and Mida Wong … haha!  There is a family / community feel at ICS which has made the transition so much easier.   Thank You ICS.  

We are also thankful for our 7th Floor family here at ICS as well.  Doing life with friends who are going through exactly the same thing has been a comfort, knowing that we are not the only ones who struggle with life here in HK. God indeed has been faithful.  

My reflection of 2017 does not just start and end with our time in Hong Kong.  I can still remember the lead up to our departure.  Last minute decisions that had to be made, getting together with close friends “one last time”, Malachi running back into our home on July 21 taking a “last look” brought tears to our eyes … and still does when I think about it.  Moving on!!  

Our ride to the airport with our dear friends, the conversation that I had in my vehicle, and I’m sure Gloria in hers.  Our Small Group hosting a farewell party for us, we were super appreciative!  We miss our friends.  We miss Harvest Durham.  We miss good, solid preaching.  

IMG_2510More recently, I had the opportunity to touch base with some staff members back at Norman G. Powers.  Do I ever miss teaching at NGP!  I miss the “off comments, jokes” that we shared, certain staff members who use strong adjectives, the relaxed environment, Friday Treats!! NGP, I do miss all of you dearly!!  Let’s Skype in soon!!  

Finally, to close out the year 2017, we were thankful for the many visitors that we had from home.  It was so special for us to spend time with Vivian, Gabby, Samuel, one of my best friends Dennis and more importantly, my Mom who came to visit and stayed for 6 weeks with us here in Hong Kong.   We miss our friends, but definitely miss our family.  We were able to create new memories with my Mom, our boys spent valuable time with their Grandmother and it allowed us to have meaningful dialogue with one another.  Malachi and Timothy especially miss their Uncle Duncan. We are looking forward to having more visitors in 2018 and to be given the opportunity to grow in our friendships and relationships.  

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So what’s next?  Well, as a family we desire to be in God’s Word more consistently with much regularity.  We will continue to seek the Lord with regards to church.  Praying for much fruit with my Grade 4 class.  We look forward to developing strong relationships with our new friends here in Hong Kong.  Praying for our Small Group – to grow in our love for the Lord.  Pray that we would use our time wisely as we mentor / disciple others.  

2018 will continue to be a year of change, a year of growth, a year of dependence on the Lord.  

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As a family we just finished looking at Psalm 121.  “I lift up my eyes to the hills.  From where does my help come?  My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth … The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.”  We learned that God is our helper.  He never slumbers nor sleeps.  He is our shade.  The Lord keeps us.  What better way to enter the New Year than this?  To be reminded that the Lord loves us.  That He is faithful.  He will never leave us.  May we continue to look to the hills when we find ourselves struggling and to know without any doubt, that our God is there to help, encourage, support, love us.  May we continue to lean into God daily.  Praying that 2018 would be a year that our love for God would grow.  

Friends, we miss you.  It was a difficult Christmas season.  Thankful for His provision.  Thankful for His love.  Don’t be strangers … we would love to hear from you.  May we all have a desire to Know Him more this upcoming year.  

You are loved!

5 months … in Hong Kong

“Be still, and know that I am God.”

“I waited patiently for the Lord, he inclined to me and heard my cry.”

“I delight to do your will, O my God, your law is within my heart.”

“Your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me.”

“The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way.”

“Wait for the Lord and keep His way.”

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Friends, these are words that keep coming to my mind.  Depending on when you read this, 5 months ago, our family left our home in Brooklin, Ontario and made the early morning drive to the airport for our family’s relocation to Hong Kong.  I can still remember that early morning when dear friends of ours came to pick us up, packed the truck with our belongings, Malachi running back into the house to take a “last look” around.  It was difficult.  Tears are forming even now as I write this and recall that morning.  I think Timothy was in a daze and still trying to figure out what exactly was taking place.

Five months into living in Hong Kong and in some sense, home in Canada seems like a distant memory.  We have made some really good friends here in Hong Kong, living in Uncommon Community with others, and we are learning what “Your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me,” really means.  God is faithful.  This morning with my Grade 4 class, I reminded them that “God is the ultimate promise keeper.”

My mom is currently visiting us in Hong Kong, and we are thankful for that.  Our boys are excited to see their Mama (Chinese for Grandmother), and I’m thrilled for them – new memories, time spent with loved ones.  Now we need my brother to come and visit as well!

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Many of you know that coming to Hong Kong was our response to God’s leading, His prompting and our desire to be obedient to His calling.  The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way.”  Our desire is to remain faithful, to delight in His ways … even though sometimes we’re not sure what that looks like.  We pray, we are seeking.  We believe that God is doing something, that He is on the move.  God has placed certain people in our lives to be our friends, prayer partners, people to lead, to disciple, to mentor.

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Last night, I had the opportunity to have a quick 10 minute conversation with a friend back in Canada, and it was encouraging and refreshing to hear of his story and what God is doing in PEI.  It almost seems that we’re living parallel lives, just on different islands!!  I’m excited to see how this all unfolds – God’s timing is always perfect.

“Be still, and know that I am God.” In the midst of a busy life, busy country, busy culture, we do our best to be still and remember that He is God.  I am continually learning to “Wait for the Lord and keep His way.”  My prayer is that I can say, “I waited patiently for the Lord, he inclined to me and heard my cry.”  Friends, I’m learning.  God is growing something new in me.  By nature, I’m not patient … I think I’ve shared this before.

Five months.  Wow!  It’s been pretty fast.  One desire does remain though … “I delight to do your will, O my God, your law is within my heart.”  This is our desire.

Pray that this blog entry would be an encouragement to you as well.  Trust Him – no matter the circumstance you find yourselves in.  God is in control.  He will direct your steps … when you delight in His ways.  Wait patiently for Him.  And remember that God is faithful and He loves you unconditionally.

I wonder what the next 5 months will bring?

Friends,

You are loved!