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.
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.
Protests, political unrest, police brutality continued in January however, not as intense as it was back in October and November. Once the Poly U incident subsided, I think everyone took a step back – not to mention about 7000 people have been arrested.
And now, as we enjoy our Chinese New Year holiday, we were supposed to go back to school this upcoming Monday, February 3; however, Hong Kong extended the return to school until February 17. But as of yesterday, February 17 has now become March 2 … and possibly longer. This is all because of the Wuhan Coronavirus.
Our family, when we moved to Hong Kong, did not anticipate any of the experiences that we are now enduring. Our boys have seen things they should never been exposed to at such a young age – riot police, smelling of tear gas, graphic pictures, political unrest. And yet, there is a contentment in all of this. It is good for our boys to go through these circumstances. They have grown in many ways.
And now, our boys are experiencing coronavirus – well not literally. This virus has been extremely deadly in China, and now, as you all know, has spread around the world. We wear our masks everyday when we go out, to protect ourselves, and yet we know it’s more of a comforting thing. Who knows if wearing my N99 or N95 mask actually helps. At least if someone were to cough or sneeze on me, I will be somewhat protected.
In the midst of all the troubles that we see around us each day, where is God? He’s still here. God is still on His throne. Isaiah 66:1 says “Thus says the LORD: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest?” He is still in control. Our God has not left us, He is not sleeping, taking a vacation. God is still here. And yet, we see panic shopping every day. Face masks are no where to be found. Disinfectant is all sold out. Rice is sold out. Instant noodles are off the shelf. There is no peace. There is no joy. There is no control.
So where does our joy come from? Our peace? Our sense of security? It’s quite apparent that in Hong Kong, at least from our experience, people crave control. People here want to know what’s going? People want the desire to control problems, situations, circumstances. As believers, we need to be reminded that we find all of hope, joy and control in Jesus. He is the author and perfecter of our faith. He is the one that shepherds us daily. We need to find our security in Christ and not on a face mask.
I’ve been reminded lately, that there is a purpose and reason behind everything. God is using His people here in Hong Kong for His kingdom. A good friend of mine, recently said, “I’m focused on asking myself, what is God telling me to do.” Such a good word and encouragement. What is God telling me to do in such a time as this? Are we to bail and leave? Is God asking us to stay for kingdom purposes?
One thing for sure, we are going to look back one day, and see God’s hands weaving this tapestry together and we will be worshiping Him more and more.
Meanwhile, please continue to pray for Hong Kong. Pray that we stay healthy and not contract corona. Till later friends.
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.
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!!
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!!
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.
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.”
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.