Homeward Bound

Just about an hour ago, we went through US Customs and Immigration at San Francisco International Airport. We are finally on US soil. This was where Kevin parted ways with us, as he is driving up to Oregon. As for the rest of us, we have a few hours until our flight to Seattle.

It’s interesting to me that in our journey home, we are backtracking our steps to Hong Kong. We walked through the same exact gates, in the same airports, with the same airplanes. It was another source of the mixed emotions we are all feeling. Yes, it is exciting to be home. Yes, it is good to be surrounded by native English speakers. Yes, the closing of this short chapter of our lives is sad. And yes, we all miss Hong Kong, China, Ning Po College, and our students terribly. I, for one, would trade the next couple hours in SFO and in an Alaskan flight for a 14 hours flight back to Hong Kong.

It’s interesting to sit here at the gate. Watching people walk by, going about their travels. None of them had an experience anything like what we went through. None of them spent the last month just pouring out in love. None of them spent enough time, loved a city and its people enough to have called Hong Kong home. It is both a blessing and a privilege to have gone on this trip.

Throughout my life, I’ve always felt like I have two home here on Earth. Indonesia, where my heart has always longed to go back to and Seattle, my physical home. But now, I can definitively say that I have a third home. Hong Kong, and more broadly, China. I will from now on, always long for the opportunity to go back.

But for now, it’s homeward bound, to Seattle.

It Is Finished… kinda.

Teaching is hard stuff; and I apologize if you were waiting for new posts to emerge. Thank you to those who keep checking.

We are now sitting in Hum Hom station in the heart of Kowloon, waiting for our train to Shanghai. With three hours to kill, it’s easy to spend this time reflecting on what has taken place the last three weeks. Friday was our last day in class, and it was a day of both stress (due to the closing ceremony), sadness (from the numerous goodbyes), and a sense of finality. For three weeks, we poured as much as we can into one hundred kids. We made relationships, hung out with a group of kids, and shared the Truth of the Gospel.

On Saturday, this culminated in a youth rally where kids from all of the Hong Kong schools that had ELIC English Camp came. At first, we expected the rally to be full of the Spirit, and that our kids and all the other kids will come to know the Lord. As the event neared, I became to lower my expectations, and I knew that if only one person decided to follow Jesus, I would be content that our work has been done. Collectively, we had around two dozen kids come to know the Lord, and just as importantly, a few hundred heard the Gospel in Cantonese, and was able to be exposed to the Truth. As a team, we had about 8-10 students come to the rally from our school, and unfortunately, none of them accepted Christ that day. But I trust that God will continue to work in their hearts, and that what we have done here is just a stepping stone for them towards eternal life. It is my prayer, and I hope yours as well, that all of the kids we have worked with this summer will continue on a path towards God. They may have not realized his presence just yet, but I pray that what we have done as a team has moved them one step towards God, and that someday, they will come to know Him.

After the rally, and during this whole weekend, I felt something that I have never felt so strongly before in my life. I was content. I was content with this trip. I was content in what the team and I have done. I was content with my students, with the work they have done. Finally, I was content with what God had done throughout this whole trip, in both myself and my students. I feel that for this trip, our work with the kids of Ning Po College is finished. And it is now time for us to hand everything back to God.

Yes, it is sad to leave Hong Kong. Yes, it is sad to leave the students. But I think that our work here was meant to be short. God has more to show and teach us, and I know that some of that will be revealed in Nanjing, China. My free wifi is almost up, so I end with one request. Pray for us as we travel to Mainland China and see what God is doing in this great nation. Pray that we will see and learn what He wants us to learn. Pray that in these next couple of weeks, we can process and come to fully realize that God used us this summer.

One Week To Go

It’s been quite a long two weeks, and alas, we have come upon our final week in Hong Kong. For me, it’s been two weeks in one heck of a roller coaster ride. I felt an incredible range of emotions regarding pretty much everything here. From the elated to the depressing; if you could imagine a tank full of “emotion-juice” inside the human body, mine is probably just about empty. I’ve felt the immense joy of being able to see another of God’s amazing creations; Sammi, one of my teammates, said that she has never seen me this happy before. I am literally, a kid in a big concrete candy store.

But I’ve also felt the strains of teaching, and preparing lessons. That is where a lot of my sorrow comes in. My students are wonderful kids, but their English is not… the best. I feel torn in two, between the English teacher who needs to improve his kids’ ability and the guy who wants to show them that God loves them, but can’t; because of the language barrier. It’s hard to spend countless hours lesson planning and changing the curriculum to meet the needs of the particular English level for kids who may not respond that well to having to sit through “English Camp” in the middle of their short summer vacation. But it’s even harder for me to know that as much as I try, it is highly unlikely for me to see evidence of any kind of spiritual movement within my kids.

Think of it this way: as much as I try to be as bright of a light as I can be, there is a level 8 typhoon and visibility is at most, zero. My kids are in the distance, and I can’t tell whether they can see me or not. It is something that I have been wrestling with this entire time. I hope I can be an impact to their lives, but in the world of my class and the kids in it, I’m beginning to realize that I may not see that impact come to fruition. I think this may be another lesson in trusting God. I have to trust that I am still a part in His plan for the 16 kids in my class, and that sometime in the future, they may come to know Him.

I think a bit of prayer for myself and for Sammi (who also has a group of extremely “low” students) would go a long way.

Just for reference, Karl has the group of mid-level students, Kevin has the highest level students, and Jacqueline’s class is in between them. It’s good to hear that the others on the team are able to communicate the Gospel and the ideas of Jesus and God to their students. And it was fun to be able to spend time with a group of them yesterday (Saturday local time) at the beach and for dinner. Please continue to pray for our team as a whole, and for the three in particular who have the ability to share their God, and have their students understand them.

Also, pray for this last week, and for the student rally on Saturday in particular. The rally is my light at the end of the tunnel. It is an event we can invite our students to, where there will be translators who can help us share the Good News with our students. There will be a time of worship, and a pastor from a local Cantonese church will speak. Please pray over that event, as not only our students from Ning Po College will be there, but so will the other students from the other ELIC Hong Kong teams as well. Pray that as we invite those in our classes to come to this rally, they will feel the urge to. Pray that they may come to see that light in the middle of the typhoon; that they will see God.

There is one week to go. Five more days of teaching. Six more days with out students. And for me, seven more days to see this wonderful city God has created. I have found that during this trip, just going out and seeing the city, walking through it with its people, and just being in that kind of environment really energizes me. It’s odd, because after a long day teaching and hanging out with students, I would expect myself to be tired and want to just crash. But every single day, I feel the need to run around and see the city and see what it’s people are like. And I have definitely seen what it’s people are like…

A few days ago, we went to the Temple Street Night Market and amongst the usual goods of t-shirts and watches are some not so nice things. At Temple Street, Mongkok, and just about any market, it’s not uncommon to see at least one vendor selling wares of a sexual nature. And at Temple Street, it was two whole blocks of it. It’s just weird to see that on the side of the road, people sell things like that. Becky, our team leader was shocked to the point of almost breaking out in tears. I myself am a bit shocked. But I think God wants us to see that even though Hong Kong is a place where we can freely worship Him, and that even though Hong Kong is a place with an abundance in churches and spiritual growth; Hong Kong is still a place where seven million people are crying out for God. A place where seven million people attempt to fill that hole in their hearts with worldly things. It just makes me thankful that not only do I have God in my life, but that He has brought me here to show me that there are still millions… no, billions of people out there who doesn’t. It makes me thankful that I can have a part in helping people fill that hole in their heart, even if I won’t see the direct results myself.

It’s about 12:15 AM local time, and I should be crawling into bed. Please continue to pray for our team, the students at Ning Po College, and the people of Hong Kong as a whole!

God Bless!

Week One: Done

Well, it has been a really eventful week here in Hong Kong. We got our classes, started teaching, and had all manners of ups and downs. The weekend is now here, time for most of us to relax and recharge for the upcoming week.

For me, this week has really been an ongoing lesson in trusting God and being joyful through the struggles. I started the week on a really high note, anticipating what’s to come. Little did I know that my students were more lower in English level than I had anticipated. And I really struggled teaching them. But as the week wore on, I started to feel God’s presence more and more as I planned for lessons and in my classroom. My students, even though they struggled with English, started to warm up to me and try harder. They still have a long way to go, both in learning English and in knowing the Lord, but I now see baby steps being made.

I felt a ton of discouragement as the week wore on as well. It was exhausting to spend hours planning, spend hours teaching, and receive nothing more than blank confused stares from my students. I felt myself asking God again and again what I’m doing wrong. Turns out I may just have been my usual impatient self. God, in his usual glorious self, gave me the strength and wisdom to simplify my lessons and spend time making power points from scratch with Sammi for every single lesson. These last few days, my students started to break out of their shells a bit more, and I am thankful for the baby steps, even though they are small.

Please pray for continued strength and wisdom.
Pray for my team; that we will stay grounded, that we will be motivated, and that we will love each other.
Pray for my students; that they will continue to open up. That they will be motivated to learn English, and that they will see God through me.

On the more relaxing side, Hong Kong is a beautiful city. It’s amazing to see God’s creation everywhere. From the beautiful hills to the concrete jungle of Central. It’s people are extremely sweet, and the food: amazing. The more time I spend here, the less desire I have to leave. I think at the end of our time here, it’s going to be hard for me to even leave to go to Shanghai.

Finally, we have been warned that a level one typhoon will hit the area sometime soon. Apparently, a level one typhoon is just heavy rain, but I don’t remember being in one; so this will be exciting.

Until next time, God Bless! I will sit here, finish some of the best egg tarts in all of Hong Kong (Spent 2 hours just to get them in the rain today) and go to bed.

Lesson Planning

Well, week one is over.

Just one week ago (around this time PST) the five of us boarded an Alaskan Airlines flight for our first leg of the journey to Hong Kong. In San Francisco International Airport, we met up with James Sinor (The ELIC Coordinator Stateside) and over 70 other college aged students who have signed up with ELIC and boarded a Cathay Pacific 747 bound for Hong Kong. Around this time (local time) we stepped off a ferry at Cheung Chau Island, ready and eager to begin our training. Little did we know, we had to drag our luggage uphill for a mile in the dark.

I think that week one was just like that first night. We were all excited about our expectations of what’s to come. We had to overcome five days of information overload and training, and we are now nearing the top of the hill; just preparing and waiting until our first day teaching. That really sums up our first week. We spent from Saturday night to Thursday afternoon (local time) in Cheung Chau Island; attending five training sessions per day and spiritually and mentally preparing. On Thursday, we moved into our final destination in Hong Kong with the other six or so teams from ELIC while the Vietnam and Mainland China teams headed for the airport.

Since then, we’ve cranked out our schedule for the next three weeks and started lesson planning on a per-day basis. What I can tell you about lesson planning is that it is hard and long. It took 2 hours to get all the planning for one day done, and we teach for 3 1/2 hours per day. And then there is the daily culture activity planning that has to be done. Today, we took a bit of a break and went out to see some of Hong Kong’s meticulously kept gardens. It’s amazing to go to a small green oasis in the middle of the concrete jungle. Its almost unexpected to see such places spring up with the beauty that they have.

In preparation for the start of English lessons and the opportunity we will have to pour into these Hong Kong kids, it’s amazing to see and feel the ways that God can pour His love, wisdom, and power into us. While prayer and time with God is important, I have learned that I can be filled up just by interacting with His creation. Whether it is the fragile trees and koi in a garden, the hustle and bustle of the city, and interactions with His greatest creation, his people. While I may be physically tired and hungry, I feel emotionally and spiritually full; ready to start reflecting what I have been feeling to the kids.

Please continue to pray that we may be continually filled up with God’s love, wisdom, and power as we continue our work.
Pray for the kids who will be attending our English camp. Not only at Ning Po College (Where we will be teaching), but also at the other colleges.
Pray for our team; for Sammi, Karl, Jacqueline, Kevin, myself, and Becky. Pray that we will have strength and wisdom from God.
Pray for the other ELIC teams; in Hong Kong, China, and Vietnam.
Finally, please pray for opportunities. For God to continually bring opportunities for us to share His love.

On a more blog type note: there is now a few thumbnails on the right hand side of the page, it is my China Flickr feed. Check there often for beautiful pictures of Hong Kong!

Video Blog #1 (Cheung Chau Island)

Well, our week at Cheung Chau Island is over, and we now have access to [somewhat] stable and easy WiFi at a regular basis. So, here is VidBlog #1.

P.S. – I had (and still have) about 30 or so bug bites on my leg, and they itched…

Enjoy!

Hong Kong: Day One

And we are here!

After over 30 hours of traveling, airline food, and attempting new positions to fall asleep in, we have made it to Hong Kong, and we are now residing in ELIC’s training and retreat facility in Cheung Chau Island.

We are going to spend several days here in training with over 140 others who shall soon be traveling to their respective teaching destinations in China and Vietnam. We are all still a little bit Jet-Lagged (We are 15 hours ahead of Seattle), but we’re here, and super excited.

Here is a picture of the team at SeaTac Airport at 4:30am on July 2nd, and a picture of our view from Cheung Chau Island.

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