Tag Archives: Hong Kong

the most hopeful thing I’d ever done

Two years ago this week I came to the Bay Area to look for an apartment.  I vividly remember Jen driving me across the bridge from the East Bay (where she lives) to the Peninsula (where I would live).  I had this tremendous sinking feeling in my stomach – “What the heck am I doing?” – “Oh my gosh I am very far from home” – “Oh crap, I’m going to live here” – “This is a really long bridge.  I’ve seen pictures of an earthquake and bridges like this!”

Ok, I didn’t really have that last thought then.*  But since Kevin and I moved to Union City, I cross that same bridge every time I go to my office.  It’s normal now – the new normal.  Life has changed so much in the last two years.   I met a wonderful man – now we’re married.  We’ve found a church community we love, and I feel so much more settled in my InterVarsity work here.  I’m almost done with my master’s degree.

Moving to California was the most hopeful thing I’d ever done.  And I knew it.  I kept saying it to myself as I packed up all my earthly possessions.  I said it to myself when I was looking at tiny apartments that cost twice my Austin mortgage. And I tried to say it to myself through the tears when I dropped Carrie off at the San Jose airport to fly home after our giant roadtrip here.

Hopeful because I had a great life in Austin.  I loved my job, my church community, my house, loved it all. And still I sensed my own desire and God’s invitation to pick up and move.  So moving, leaving what I knew to try something new.  I had to be hopeful, or I’d never leave.  I am grateful for all the meaningful goodbyes I had in Austin, they carried me through the darker and colder times here.  A shoebox of affirmations from the IV Regional Leadership Team and a shoebox of sending notes and prayers from Mosaic are still treasures of mine.  Like the writers of the psalms, I got to stretch my faith – remembering the community and good times of the past while looking forward to the new communities here.

Every year we graduate students (and send staff) who are off to new things.  I told the graduating seniors that it takes at least a year, more like a year and a half to really transition.  Leaving their college communities can be really hard.  I imagine they have sinking feelings too sometimes – and I pray hope for them – that they would find joy in these growth opportunities of transition.  Here’s to many more ‘most hopeful things.’


*I still have yet to feel an earthquake, though K says that most earthquakes won’t be much worse than when the train goes by our condo


what to say

I’m struggling with writer’s wave – there are so many possible things to write about it feels overwhelming.  How do I communicate so many feelings, experiences, and sensory experiences in just a few paragraphs?

Answer:  I don’t.  (A picture is worth a thousand words, right?)

But first, a few words:

1. It’s impossible to explain how great it is to be around extended family again.  My heart is full from the joy of being with them.

2. It’s great to know that my language skills haven’t deteriorated, in fact, I think they’ve gotten better from watching Cantonese dramas online!

3. And I’ve gotten to share all this with my sister, brother-in-law, and ever-awesome niece.

we like walking around malls

we like walking around malls

hanging out with my cousin a lot!

hanging out with my cousin a lot!

It was great to overlap in Hong Kong with Janna’s visit here.  One day we went back to Tao Fong Shan for a little retreat time.

at tao fong shan

view from the foot of the cross at tao fong shan

The next day, we ended up eating our way around town.  First, some sushi.

sushi is confusing sometimes

sushi is confusing sometimes

We need some help identifying the following item – apparently it did not taste so good.  Any experts out there?

unidentifed sushi.  please help!

unidentifed sushi. please help!

This next item is identified, and super-yummy.  Hui Lau Shan mango stuff.

dessert.  yum.

dessert. yum.

A little after this, we went and had early afternoon tea – nai cha and french toast.  YUM!  Then, we got a chance to visit the Fellowship of Evangelical Students (FES) office in Hong Kong… We got to chat with Carlson and Maureen, some amazing staff. And then as we were getting ready to leave, Gideon Yung happened to come by too.  He is the former IFES East Asia General Secretary who recently became the IFES Associate General Secretary.  (!)  It was fun to chat with all of the staff – super down-to-earth and encouraging to be around.

surprise meeting - Ting, Wesley, Janna, me, and Gideon Yung

surprise meeting - Ting, Wesley, Janna, me, and Gideon Yung

We joke that my niece looks like a Peanuts character – her head is really large, and her body (and particularly arms) are short in comparison.  (You know how the characters always have to reach their arms up really high to reach doorknobs, and can’t put their arms around their heads….)  So here she is, in the land of Peanuts characters.

my aunt, my niece, Sally, and my sister

my aunt, my niece, Sally, and my sister

Other things I hope to write about when I’m not so tired:

  • the wonders of public transportation (and why I love it)
  • immigration, language, and assimilation (you know, small topics)
  • the view from the other side of the world

good night all!

with a l’il help from emma thompson

We’ve made it to Hong Kong!  Despite the 3+ hour delay from O’Hare, we still managed to beat Typhoon Molave, which meant that we could land (a few hours more and we’d have been diverted to Taiwan).  The typhoon has passed – lots of strong winds and a l’il rain.

The sweet buhbee did great, sleeping most of the trip (!) but then that of course means she didn’t sleep much last night.  Poor thing, international travel is tough on adults who logically understand time changes and airplanes… must be so confusing for the little ones.

This adult tried to get more “Theology of the Johannine Epistles” read for class, and to finish a report for work – but it was pretty tough going.  Just when I thought I was going to lose it on the plane, they showed “Last Chance Harvey” – I hadn’t heard of it, but I enjoyed watching Emma Thompson and Dustin Hoffman in it.

She is such a great actress!!  I just read on IMDB that she was offered the role of “God” in Dogma, but couldn’t do it because she was pregnant… Alanis does a great job in that final sequence, but it makes me smile that it could have been Emma.  🙂

Alright, more updates to follow.  Time to go rouse the troops, I think, great (food) adventures await!


Thanks all for the food suggestions – I have definitely taken some of them – who knew y’all could get so excited about food?

Re-entry is jarring – objects re-entering the earth’s atmosphere get all fiery, and in my head I picture video footage of the old space programs where the capsules would plunge into the ocean.  So maybe my re-entry isn’t that crazy, but it has felt strange.

I’ve been home for 2 weeks exactly – and I think for sure the first week was tough.  Each morning I’d wake up in the mornings still thinking in Cantonese, or being a little confused about where I was.  It didn’t help that my circadian rhythms were totally off and I was waking up at 6am and getting hungry at 2am… The week was like beginning to wake up from a really pleasant dream – you know you’re waking up, but you want to stay asleep because it’s nice and comfy in your dream world … but not your real life.

In dream life, family was all around, I had no responsibilities, and wonderful food was everywhere.  But my real life is here in Austin, a city of less than a million with marginal public transportation, and where I live 1500 miles from the nearest family member.  Just a little different.

But don’t get me wrong, there is lots to experience in real life.  It was nice to feel missed… to have people say “I’m glad you’re back!”  Even if I was still ramping up to ‘being glad to be back.’  And there are good things here too – I like my house and my friends and community here.  It was great to be back at church and at small group.  Friends have eased the ‘waking up’ process by listening to my stories, looking at my pictures, and asking good questions.  And I’m taking a seminary class that I really like.

It is a new day.

I have 4 days left of sabbatical.  It has flown by.  I still miss Hong Kong a lot, but I want to be excited to see how my experience there impacts my ‘real life’ here.  I want to know how to ‘belong’ to my extended family even living 8,279 miles away.

A friend said that they used to refer to some of their fellow IV staff as pre-sabbatical so-and-so, and then post-sabbatical so-and-so.  I think I’m beginning to understand or feel why.  I feel different – perhaps because I know more of where I come from, who I am, and by God’s grace, more of who I’m created me to be.

So say we all.

Jan 12 - Hong Kong Park.

Jan 12 - Hong Kong Park.

-yes, I am a nerd.  I also watch Lost.  What the heck is going there?

35 days… (a trip in numbers)

7 – sets of aunts and uncles that I got to hang out with

14 – cousins I also got to know better – they range in age from 12 to 49 (!)

24* – number of Cha Siu Bous eaten (I was shooting for one for each day but fell short)

10* – Hong Kong style milk teas consumed

4* – deep fried apple pies from McDonald’s eaten

70,000 – frequent flyer miles used

212.30 – US Dollars in airline fees

tons of Cantonese pronunciation, grammatical, and vocabulary errors

too many goodbyes…

and LOTS and LOTS of love for family here – I’m taking this one home with me. 🙂

* – these #s are probably each going up by one since I still have 2 meals left to eat in HK!

Thankful and joyful.

Drumroll, please!

Drumroll, please!

[the picture is from an awesome Japanese video game – involving a taiko dream and hitting beats.  I couldn’t help but grin from ear to ear the whole time my cousin Matt and I were playing!]

I’ve only got a few more days left of what’s been an amazing trip to Hong Kong.  I am so thankful to God for the opportunity to be here, and to have gotten to see my family so much.  What a great way to end my sabbatical!  I’m sad to leave, but the bigger feeling is a lot of joy.

Of course the biggest highlight has been being with family…

looking at old family pictures

looking at old family pictures

I’ve loved getting to look at lots of old family pictures, and hear more of our family history.  By hearing all the stories I feel like I’ve just gotten to know my grandparents, even though they passed away in the late 80s and early 90s.  The more I learn about them, the more I admire them!

The same goes for my aunts and uncles and cousins – getting to know them better has been such a blessing.

Last time I left Hong Kong, I was incredibly sad to leave.  2005 was the first time I had gotten to meet my relatives in 14 years, and it was so overwhelming and amazing and short – a little over 3 weeks.  Meeting everyone and experiencing extended family made me aware of what I had missed out on all those years.  But the biggest reason I was so sad to leave is because I didn’t know when or how I would come back and/or continue these relationships (I figured I would only come back with my parents).

Don’t get me wrong – I’m still sad to leave this time.  But I know that I can visit Hong Kong again on my own.  I can get around here, and meet up with family, etc.  And even if I can’t come back very soon, my Cantonese has improved dramatically and it will be much easier to talk on the phone with folks!

joyful.  [on a walk with my aunt near HK harbor]So yeah, thanks for your well-wishes and prayers – this is one joy-filled traveler saying goodnight for now.  Gotta get some rest so that I can enjoy these last few days!

sent the sun over to y’all…

It’s been a wonderful few days here at Tao Fong Shan.  I’ll be sad to leave tomorrow, though it’s the beginning of a series of leavings before a series of arrivings.  I leave HK and arrive in the States on Jan 14.

Tao Fong Shan was started by a Norwegian as a mission to Buddhist monks – he was thinking a lot about how to contextualize Christianity for Chinese people, thus the classic Chinese architecture, etc.   The translated meaning is something like “the Mountain of Christ Wind”  Tao=Christ (it’s actually Word, like In the beginning was the Word…), Fong =wind, and Shan=Mountain.   It’s very peaceful up here away from everything…

view from TFS

view from TFS

I watched the sun go down tonight at this spot.  It was a wonderful few minutes to just stand, breathe in the air, and meditate.  I know that it’s the earth rotation, and all, but as the sun went down, I told her to say hello to y’all – all my friends and family.  🙂  So, hopefully that’s happening, about now.  The soundtrack for sunset was lovely too – Sigur Ros.

After the sun disappeared behind the mountain ridge, I walked back up to the chapel area and watched planes fly overhead.  We must be in the flightpath of planes heading east (back towards home…).  There were tons, every 2 minutes for quite a long time.  The sky was a beautiful blue, and the planes were so pretty.  I watched some more after dinner too, just as great in the night sky.

Isn’t HK at night beautiful?  All those city lights.. And this is just what is considered the ‘suburbs!’ 🙂