Living Life in Hong Kong

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.

You are loved.

Lessons You Cannot Learn When Life is “Normal”

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.

So much growth happening.

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.

Brothers forever.

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.”

Growing up.

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.

Opportunities are endless.

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.

One of my favorite pics this year. You can write the caption.

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.

Happy New Year from us to you.

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.

#fear

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.

“HK taxis by the Star Ferry”

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.

“view from Lion Rock”

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.

  1. Remember that God commands us to “Fear Not.”
  2. Remember God’s promises “for I am with you.”
  3. 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.

“family photo sans face masks”

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.

Friends, you are loved.