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.

“It’s just the way it is.”

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August 27, 2018.  That was a few days ago.  For our family worship time, we looked at Psalm 25.  We focused primarily on verses 4 and 5.  King David writes:

“Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths.  Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.”

As a family we noticed a couple of things here … King David makes 3 requests from God.

  1.  Make me to know your ways.
  2.  Teach me your paths.
  3.  Lead me in your truth.

We asked our boys what it means to “make me” to know your ways.  Our thoughts and conclusion is that David desired for God to make him understand His ways.  I don’t believe that this is always comfortable.  Having God make you understand something would require some time, perhaps even stress, pain.

He continues to ask God to “teach me your paths.” As a teacher, I have the joy and privilege of teaching my students daily.  I absolutely love the fact that I get to teach Bible to my grade 4’s, open God’s word and to share the Gospel – every day!  We sort of came to an understanding that King David didn’t know everything.  He needed God to teach him something, in this situation, God’s paths.  Perhaps David was not making wise choices.  Or perhaps David was simply seeking wisdom.

David ends by asking God to “lead me in your truth.”  David writes over and over in the Psalms of his desire to know God’s truth.  Here in verse 5, he’s asking God to lead him in His truth.  We know that God’s truth is the ultimate standard of truth.   There is nothing more truer than God.  If God were to lead, our response ought to be, we would follow.

So why do I share this with you all?  My prayers these days are:

“God, why did you bring us to Hong Kong?”  

Timothy’s thoughts are, “I want to go back to Canada, forever.”

A year ago we came to HK, left basically everything to come, to be obedient to His leading, His calling.  Was it a mistake?  Did we “hear” wrong?  Was there some kind of miscommunication?  I don’t think so … however, living in Hong Kong, working in Hong Kong, daily life in Hong Kong, is a constant struggle.  Personally I struggle with the culture, I struggle with how things are.  “It’s just the way it is” doesn’t cut it for me anymore.  That seems to be the answer every time there’s a question.

So what?  Psalm 25 was somewhat convicting.  I need to be praying … “Lord, make me to know your ways, teach me your paths and lead me in your truth.”  I also need to be prepared for God’s answer as well.

Verse 9 and 10 of Psalm 25 reads, “He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble His way.  All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep His covenant and his His testimonies.”  There is hope.  Thankful that God’s love for our family is steadfast.  Thankful that God is faithful even when we are faithless.  And so, like King David writes at the end of verse 5 … “for you I wait all the day long.”

Pray that we would be teachable and humble during this season of our life.  After all, this is Hong Kong.

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TCP? TCF? Third Culture Parenting / Family?

img_8802Recently a good friend of ours here in Hong Kong posted a couple of articles on the topic of TCK’s.  Some of you may be wondering what this is.  We actually didn’t even know of this term until last year at some point and then questions and thoughts started to come about.  So what does TCK stand for?  Third Culture Kid.  Basically, a TCK is “a term describing people who spend a significant part of childhood living outside their passport countries.” (Tanya Crossman, The Three Cultures of a Third Culture Kid).

Gloria and I have had questions and thoughts about this – more of a reaction due to one of our sons desires to go back home.  You can see even here, that I consider home as Canada, although Hong Kong is home for us, at this moment, time, space.

How much does one have to immerse themselves into their new culture?  When do you draw the line?  Do you really have to “accept” everything your new country has to offer? Is it wrong for us to be “Canadians living in Hong Kong?”  Not only do our boys have to adjust, we do too.

Have I completely immersed myself into HK culture?  Quick answer: No.

Do I feel completely at home in HK?  Not really.

Are there things that really bother me?  Absolutely.

Are there aspects of Hong Kong simply amazing?  Yes!

And so this thought quickly turned my attention to TCP.  Third Culture Parenting.  Trying to parent children in a new culture and place, while trying to adjust yourself is quite trying at times and honestly, tiring.  We have questions, like, “Are we parenting our boys affectively here in HK?”  Are our boys immersed or just going through the days and months with an end knowing that we are going back to Canada next summer?

I’m not so sure if I have answers at the moment, however, something worth thinking through and seeking some counsel and wisdom.

As our family continues to enjoy this journey, we are thankful (although not all the time) for the many different opportunities that have been afforded to us.  We do continue to seek God with all matters, asking for wisdom and discernment.

Allow me to end this by asking, “Are we really a Third Culture Family?” or just passing through until God calls us somewhere else or back to Canada?

Until later … need some time to really wrap my mind about this and will share more.

You are loved.