A lot going on …

Today is February 1, 2020.

A lot has happened in the past 31 days.

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.

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.

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.