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.

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.

Typhoon Mangkhut

Hong Kong just endured one of the biggest and severe typhoons ever recorded.  In sixty years, Hong Kong has only recorded 15 T10’s … the equivalent of a Category 5 Hurricane. We’ve only been in Hong Kong just over a year now, and have experienced 2 T10’s.  This time, it was a little different.  Living in a Village Home, the outcome was, well, let’s just say adventurous.  I went out for a quick walk just to “feel” the wind and rain.  Luckily, I only stayed for a short period of time, mainly because I got scared!  When I returned inside, within 15 minutes, things were flying around. First it was just a box that landed in our “yard,” and finally we had pieces of someone’s roof that landed on our outdoor table, then the rest of the roof in front of our place.  Crazy!

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We were really fortunate that nothing major was damaged, nor did I get impaled by anything sharp or flying.  As for our boys, they were a bit scared, nervous, anxious – but thankful for Google Play and they were able to watch Coco!  Haha!  It was still indeed, a unique experience for our family to go through.

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I was reminded during this ordeal that God is still in control.  He is Lord of all.  Scripture doesn’t tell us that He is Lord of some … BUT All.  He knew about this typhoon. He knew which tree would be uprooted.  He knew that I would venture out to take a quick video.  God knew.  This was not a surprise.  Typhoon Mangkhut did not just appear.  God’s power was definitely on display.  In life, we often go through many storms.  It’s not a matter of IF, but WHEN.  Storms, trials, circumstances … whatever word you would like to use, will come, it’s how we respond.  With Typhoon Manghkut, we stayed inside.  The people of Hong Kong stayed inside.  Despite the power of this typhoon, the death toll is at a minimum.  People stayed close to their home.  Some even built forts in their hallways to stay safe.  I really have to ask myself though, “How do I respond in the midst of storms, trials?”  Honestly, in this season of life in HK – not good.

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I need to remind myself that God is still in control.  I need to remind myself to stay close to “home.” God knows the struggles that I would go through.  God knows who will encourage me.  God knows what my future holds.  God knows.  I need to take comfort in that.  I need to trust Him again.

As for clean up, the process has already begun here in HK.  We didn’t have school the past 2 days, which was much needed for all of us.  The same can be said of my own heart.  The clean up is beginning again … it’s never ending … always a process.  In my last blog, I asked, “God, why do you have us here in HK?”  … I think I know the answer …

Friends … you are loved.