29 and Counting

17 05 2011

Can you guess what the # 29 in the title refers to?  Is it:

[A] Debbie’s age
[B] Average number of penalty minutes Joel would get over 2 hockey games
[C] The number of times we have moved since being married
[D] The number of years we have been married

For those of you who chose [A] as the correct answer, Debbie says “bless you, but you need your eyes examined!”

For those of you who chose [B] as the correct answer, Joel categorically denies that he EVER got that many penalty minutes (that he can recall)!

The correct answer is [D].  This past weekend we celebrated our 29th wedding anniversary, and took some time to reflect back over the years.  As we thought back to our first anniversary – living in an apartment in Kindersley, Saskatchewan and to where we are today – living in an apartment in Hong Kong – we are thankful for God’s care and provision for us over the years and the many different stops along the way.

Someone once wrote:  “There’s nothing better than two, a man and a woman, who walk together. When they walk right together, there’s no way too long, no night too dark.”  We feel blessed that we have been able to work and walk together these 29 years –to live and minister in Canada, USA, Taiwan, Hong Kong and China.

This also gives us an opportunity to give you an update on the other members of our family – whom we love but miss dearly.

Nathan & Jasmine – have just moved from Montana to California – where Nathan has taken on a new position at the Appeal-Democrat newspaper in Marysville / Yuba City.  Jasmine is making plans to attend graduate school, and we hope to be able to visit them at their new apartment later this summer.

Ryan is closing in on the end of his first year of teaching HS math at Harrison Prep in Lakewood, WA.  It has been a good year for him – stretching him as he has been the only high school math teacher for this charter school.  He’s looking forward to some down time after school ends, and he has a break from what seems like endless lesson planning!

Janelle has just finished classes for another year at Azusa Pacific University – three more semesters to go until she graduates!  She is excited for the opportunity to be part of a short-term mission trip to Cambodia with Teach Overseas – she will teaching English and sports to Cambodian children at the same school she visited with ICS students from Hong Kong 5 years ago.

We are planning on returning to Canada/USA this summer. Part of our time back will be to visit our family (not just our kids but also our aging parents), and to also connect with supporters.  It is shaping up to be a busy summer, but we are looking forward to seeing everyone again!


Joel’s mom had begun her 3rd round of chemo for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma on March 8th; after experiencing a lot of pain across her back, an MRI determined that there are 2 new lesions on her backbone.  She had the first of 10 radiation treatments targeting these new growths on Friday (May 13th).   PRAY with us that she would experience God’s presence as well as His mercy and healing power in these coming days.

Janelle is scheduled to depart the last week of June on a 5-weeks long summer missions trip. Pray that God would use this time to show her His direction for her life; pray that the necessary funds will come in to cover her expenses.

Praise God that Nathan & Jasmine were able to find an apartment very quickly.  Pray for God’s leading as they adapt to a new city and job.

Pray for Debbie & Ryan that would both be able to finish the school year strong – with all the energy and patience they need in working with their students.

Pray for God’s anointing on times that Joel & Debbie will have this summer, sharing with churches and friends about our ministry and raising support to continue our ministry overseas.

Until next week,

Joel & Debbie


It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like … Summer

10 05 2011

It’s that time of the year – again.  Here in Hong Kong it appears that the cool and pleasant days of spring are over, and the heat and humidity have returned.  It’s not that we didn’t expect it – after all, Hong Kong has a sub-tropical climate (we’re located just below the Tropic of Cancer) – we were just enjoying the comfortable days of spring.  But let me quantify what we mean by ‘comfortable days of spring’ – it means daytime highs around mid 20’s Celsius (mid 70’s Fahrenheit), with the evenings ‘cooling’ down to mid teens Celsius (mid 50’s Fahrenheit).

One of the areas of life we have had to adapt to over the years has been this area of climate.  Neither of us grew up in sub-tropical climates, but over the years we have learned to adapt to a different kind of weather.  We’ve gone from knowing the wind chill factor (temperature + wind = how cold it feels) to learning about the heat index (temperature + humidity = how hot it feels).  Not surprisingly, there is a heat index calculator that you can use on your smartphone.  We may want to consider having that available, just so we’ll know when to avoid spending excessive time outside – sapping our energy, with a higher risk of heat stroke and heat exhaustion.

We also know that with the start of May comes a change in the weather patterns here – over the next several months we can expect more showers and thunderstorms, even some typhoons. Afternoon temperatures often exceed 31° C (88° F), whereas at night, temperatures generally remain around 26° C (79° F) with high humidity (70 – 95%).  The Hong Kong Observatory report today for Shatin (where we live): high temperature 32.5° C / 60% humidity = heat index of 38.3° C / 100.9° F – and it’s only the beginning of May!

So, like everyone else here in Hong Kong, we will make the necessary adjustments to deal with the heat.  There are of course, several ways that you can try to deal with the onset of summertime weather.  You will see many people walking around with an umbrella – even when it isn’t raining – just to help protect them from the sun’s rays and the blazing heat.  However, when you walk into any of the malls across Hong Kong, or ride any of the local public transportation here (bus or subway), you have to prepare yourself for a blast of cold air.  Hong Kong is definitely an air-conditioned society – which means you want to carry a sweater or light jacket around to prepare for the 15 – 20° F difference between outdoor and indoor temperatures.

As with any kind of change, the best way to handle it is to learn to see the positive side and look for what we can be thankful for. Things like air conditioning, swimming pools and even breezes can be cause for gratefulness.  And humidity can be great for hydrating the skin! Maybe the best way to describe our approach can be summed up in the following poem:

Whether the weather be fine, whether the weather be not,
Whether the weather be cold, whether the weather be hot,
We’ll weather the weather, whatever the whether,
Whether we like it or not!

We trust that you too can find a way to be grateful wherever you are, whatever the weather!

Until next week,

Joel & Debbie Chute

Free to Celebrate

3 05 2011

When friends back in North America find out we’re living in Hong Kong, we are often asked a question along these lines, “How has Hong Kong changed since being handed over to China in 1997?”  Since we didn’t arrive here until 1999, we’ll often share the comment we heard from our good friend and former long-term resident of Hong Kong – Chuck Fowler – “After the handover, the main change was that the policemen began wearing a different colored uniform!”

Hong Kong flags - prior to 1997 (top); current flag (bottom)

It’s not to say that there haven’t been any changes here in Hong Kong since 1997, but for the most part, Hong Kong is as free today as it was prior to 1997.  These past couple of weeks here in Hong Kong are another reminder of how free we are here in Hong Kong – just in the range of public holidays that are celebrated.

Hong Kong celebrates an amazing 17 annual public holidays every year, including your ‘typical‘ holidays, such as New Year’s Day.  Since the majority of people living in Hong Kong are of Chinese descent, most of the public holidays have a definite local flavor to them – three separate holidays around the Lunar New Year, as well as two holidays (one in the spring & fall) for families to pay their respects to their deceased ancestors.

But since the handover from the British to China in 1997, there were only three changes to the list of public holidays in Hong Kong.  British-inspired holidays celebrating the liberation of Hong Kong, anniversary of victory in the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Queen’s Birthday, were replaced by the China’s National Day (October 1) and the Hong Kong SAR Establishment Day (July 1) and Labour Day (May 1).

Interestingly, four of the holidays that were not replaced were Good Friday, Easter Monday, and two days at Christmas.  Of course there is also a public holiday for Buddha’s birthday which is next week (May 10th).

The truth is that with the frenetic pace of life and work here, everyone welcomes these holidays, no matter what the reason.  Everyone has a different way of spending those days – some go hiking, others march in protest of something the government has/hasn’t done, others stay at home & relax, while many will go shopping or just spend time with friends and family.  But it is a credit to the freedom enjoyed by the people of Hong Kong that allows them to celebrate the day as they wish.

The sound of the drum beats coming from the dragon boat crews practicing on the canal outside of our apartment is a reminder of the next holiday we’ll celebrate later this month – Dragon Boat Festival.  We’re looking forward to the time off and the freedom to celebrate as we like –relaxing at home together or braving the crowds to go watch some of the dragon boat races around Hong Kong or (we must confess) spending a ‘little’ time getting caught up on our work!

Until next week,

Joel & Debbie Chute