Three Going on Four

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.

Dumplings from a restaurant in Wan Chai

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.”

Went to Blendit to buy some amazing bagels.

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.

Sai Wan Beach

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.

Please know that You are Loved.

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.