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.

“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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365

365.

One year. 

So much has happened.  

Blogging consistently is not my forte.  Posting pics on Social Media?  Well, that’s pretty easy, even our boys are doing it!!  

It’s hard to imagine that we have now been in Hong Kong for one year.  A year ago, we were on the way to the airport with our dear friends.  I can still remember it like it was yesterday.  Watching Malachi run back into our house, one last time, it was so difficult.  Saying good bye to my mom and brother – it was like having your heart taken out, yet we still came.  

Now that we’ve been here a year, it’s time to reflect on the lesson’s learned.  

We are thankful for God’s provision, His hand of protection and how He continues to sustain us and provide for our family.  Trust me, there have been many days where we’ve wanted to come home.  Days where we questioned God – why did you bring us to Hong Kong?  This has actually been a conversation that we have had more recently than not.  

This blog unfortunately is not all hype and excitement nor celebratory.  Just a heads up.

Our Facebook and Instagram pages may paint a different story – Food, travel, Food, adventures, however, the struggle is real.  We struggle with not having a vehicle.  We struggle with how the culture of Hong Kong is so different than home.  We struggle with the people.  We struggle with not living in our own home back in Brooklin.  BUT … we knew this coming here.  However, we still struggle. In short, it’s been a challenging year. 

On the other hand, we have been blessed and thankful for the opportunities to travel, to explore, go on adventures.  This past year alone, our family visited Kuala Lumpur, Cambodia, Osaka, Kyoto, and Macau.  We’re already planning trips to Thailand and Taiwan.  We would never have had these opportunities if we were still living in Canada.  There are definitely trade offs.  

So what have we learned?  What has God taught us?  

Today also marked our 13th wedding anniversary.  Gloria and I celebrated by going out for lunch at Festival Walk.  Thankful for good friends who looked after our boys.  

During lunch, Gloria asked me how I’m enjoying Hong Kong.  On the surface, it’s okay la.  Experiencing the culture, the food, the sights and YET, there’s still a sense of wanting to belong, a longing to have community.  The friends that we have here, are great and there are those whom I believe will be life long friends.  

I shared that I do love the fact that we can travel and share this time with one another, with our boys.  These are memories that we will have.  

So what is God or what has God taught me?  

  1. I need Him.  We need Him.  We can’t do this on our own strength.  We need to rely on God daily.  He’s also the same God that lead us to Hong Kong.  God didn’t bring us here all the way from Brooklin, Ontario, just to leave us.  
  2. Everything is not always going to be perfect.  Need to recognize this.  We are living in Hong Kong.  Will share more at an appropriate time.  
  3. Humble dependence.  This really goes back to the first point.  

God continues to reveal so much about my heart. Areas in which I need to surrender more and more.  He must increase, I must decrease.

And so, the million dollar question for us at times is: When do we go home?  Or as Timothy would say, “Daddy, when are we going back to Canada forever?” My response to our son, pray.  Pray and ask God for His leading.  In the meantime, we are here.  

Pray that we would continue to be faithful.  Pray that we would seek out opportunities to continue to serve our Lord.  Pray that I would lead and shepherd my family better.  

Till next time. 

Dan 

2018 … what’s next?

Happy New Year friends!  

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It’s been quite a while since we have shared with you on our Blog and what better time than now to update you with what’s been going on with Team Wong.  

For the past month we have continued with our galavanting around Hong Kong, going to different restaurants, sites and eventually ending up at the Happiest Place on Earth!  Yes, Disneyland!  We love Disney!  It was definitely our happy place.  

As we approach New Year’s in a couple of hours, there is much to reflect on.  There is much to be thankful for.  There is much to consider.  

2017 has been a year of change in our family, if you haven’t guessed already!  Haha!  As I reflect back on what God has done, what He is doing, it’s amazing that we’ve lasted Hong Kong as long as we have.   

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Our time in Hong Kong has been challenging in many ways.  We continue to look for a church that we can call home.  I believe that God is working in my heart with regards to this.  Not sure what the lesson is at this moment, however, I do know that I need to be in the Word consistently and be praying more fervently.  Our Family Worship during  this season of life has been way too sporadic, and that’s my fault for not leading better.  This indeed is an area of my life that I need to work on in the New Year.  

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As for fellowship is concerned, our SG is growing closer to one another.  We continue to study the book of Colossians and hope to be done soon, however, the time spent digging into the Word together has been meaningful and it’s a joy to lead, even though there are days when I feel so inadequate.  I think the fact that we all (with the exception of one member) have a Harvest Bible Chapel connection has bonded us quickly.  We actually call ourselves Harvest Hong Kong (unofficially) but our love for the Word and Worship that we have all experienced at Harvest Brampton, York or Durham bring us together like family.  

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I have appreciated my time teaching at ICS.  The faculty, leadership are encouraging and I absolutely love my class.  My students are so much fun!! Every year, students have given me a number of different nicknames, ranging from Wong to Wongy to Mr. W and now, Mr. Ping Pong, Mr. Kapong and Mida Wong … haha!  There is a family / community feel at ICS which has made the transition so much easier.   Thank You ICS.  

We are also thankful for our 7th Floor family here at ICS as well.  Doing life with friends who are going through exactly the same thing has been a comfort, knowing that we are not the only ones who struggle with life here in HK. God indeed has been faithful.  

My reflection of 2017 does not just start and end with our time in Hong Kong.  I can still remember the lead up to our departure.  Last minute decisions that had to be made, getting together with close friends “one last time”, Malachi running back into our home on July 21 taking a “last look” brought tears to our eyes … and still does when I think about it.  Moving on!!  

Our ride to the airport with our dear friends, the conversation that I had in my vehicle, and I’m sure Gloria in hers.  Our Small Group hosting a farewell party for us, we were super appreciative!  We miss our friends.  We miss Harvest Durham.  We miss good, solid preaching.  

IMG_2510More recently, I had the opportunity to touch base with some staff members back at Norman G. Powers.  Do I ever miss teaching at NGP!  I miss the “off comments, jokes” that we shared, certain staff members who use strong adjectives, the relaxed environment, Friday Treats!! NGP, I do miss all of you dearly!!  Let’s Skype in soon!!  

Finally, to close out the year 2017, we were thankful for the many visitors that we had from home.  It was so special for us to spend time with Vivian, Gabby, Samuel, one of my best friends Dennis and more importantly, my Mom who came to visit and stayed for 6 weeks with us here in Hong Kong.   We miss our friends, but definitely miss our family.  We were able to create new memories with my Mom, our boys spent valuable time with their Grandmother and it allowed us to have meaningful dialogue with one another.  Malachi and Timothy especially miss their Uncle Duncan. We are looking forward to having more visitors in 2018 and to be given the opportunity to grow in our friendships and relationships.  

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So what’s next?  Well, as a family we desire to be in God’s Word more consistently with much regularity.  We will continue to seek the Lord with regards to church.  Praying for much fruit with my Grade 4 class.  We look forward to developing strong relationships with our new friends here in Hong Kong.  Praying for our Small Group – to grow in our love for the Lord.  Pray that we would use our time wisely as we mentor / disciple others.  

2018 will continue to be a year of change, a year of growth, a year of dependence on the Lord.  

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As a family we just finished looking at Psalm 121.  “I lift up my eyes to the hills.  From where does my help come?  My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth … The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.”  We learned that God is our helper.  He never slumbers nor sleeps.  He is our shade.  The Lord keeps us.  What better way to enter the New Year than this?  To be reminded that the Lord loves us.  That He is faithful.  He will never leave us.  May we continue to look to the hills when we find ourselves struggling and to know without any doubt, that our God is there to help, encourage, support, love us.  May we continue to lean into God daily.  Praying that 2018 would be a year that our love for God would grow.  

Friends, we miss you.  It was a difficult Christmas season.  Thankful for His provision.  Thankful for His love.  Don’t be strangers … we would love to hear from you.  May we all have a desire to Know Him more this upcoming year.  

You are loved!

5 months … in Hong Kong

“Be still, and know that I am God.”

“I waited patiently for the Lord, he inclined to me and heard my cry.”

“I delight to do your will, O my God, your law is within my heart.”

“Your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me.”

“The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way.”

“Wait for the Lord and keep His way.”

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Friends, these are words that keep coming to my mind.  Depending on when you read this, 5 months ago, our family left our home in Brooklin, Ontario and made the early morning drive to the airport for our family’s relocation to Hong Kong.  I can still remember that early morning when dear friends of ours came to pick us up, packed the truck with our belongings, Malachi running back into the house to take a “last look” around.  It was difficult.  Tears are forming even now as I write this and recall that morning.  I think Timothy was in a daze and still trying to figure out what exactly was taking place.

Five months into living in Hong Kong and in some sense, home in Canada seems like a distant memory.  We have made some really good friends here in Hong Kong, living in Uncommon Community with others, and we are learning what “Your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me,” really means.  God is faithful.  This morning with my Grade 4 class, I reminded them that “God is the ultimate promise keeper.”

My mom is currently visiting us in Hong Kong, and we are thankful for that.  Our boys are excited to see their Mama (Chinese for Grandmother), and I’m thrilled for them – new memories, time spent with loved ones.  Now we need my brother to come and visit as well!

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Many of you know that coming to Hong Kong was our response to God’s leading, His prompting and our desire to be obedient to His calling.  The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way.”  Our desire is to remain faithful, to delight in His ways … even though sometimes we’re not sure what that looks like.  We pray, we are seeking.  We believe that God is doing something, that He is on the move.  God has placed certain people in our lives to be our friends, prayer partners, people to lead, to disciple, to mentor.

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Last night, I had the opportunity to have a quick 10 minute conversation with a friend back in Canada, and it was encouraging and refreshing to hear of his story and what God is doing in PEI.  It almost seems that we’re living parallel lives, just on different islands!!  I’m excited to see how this all unfolds – God’s timing is always perfect.

“Be still, and know that I am God.” In the midst of a busy life, busy country, busy culture, we do our best to be still and remember that He is God.  I am continually learning to “Wait for the Lord and keep His way.”  My prayer is that I can say, “I waited patiently for the Lord, he inclined to me and heard my cry.”  Friends, I’m learning.  God is growing something new in me.  By nature, I’m not patient … I think I’ve shared this before.

Five months.  Wow!  It’s been pretty fast.  One desire does remain though … “I delight to do your will, O my God, your law is within my heart.”  This is our desire.

Pray that this blog entry would be an encouragement to you as well.  Trust Him – no matter the circumstance you find yourselves in.  God is in control.  He will direct your steps … when you delight in His ways.  Wait patiently for Him.  And remember that God is faithful and He loves you unconditionally.

I wonder what the next 5 months will bring?

Friends,

You are loved!