When All is Not Well

26 04 2013

Recent events here in Hong Kong and China have brought back a certain level of unease, tension and fear for many people.

Next month will mark the 5th anniversary of China’s Wenchuan (汶川) Earthquake (May 12, 2008) where nearly 70,000 residents were killed, 375,000 injured, another 19,000 reported as missing, and nearly 5 million people left homeless.  Included in this number were thousands of school children, who died when the school buildings they were in that day collapsed on them.  And now just as many of these families were trying to move on with their lives, disaster has struck this province in central China once again.

2008 Wenchuan earthquake

Last week (April 20th) another devastating earthquake wreaked havoc on the people of Sichuan, hitting the rural county of Lushan (芦山), south of the provincial capital city of ChengDu. While this earthquake and the resulting aftershocks have brought back memories of the terror and destruction of the Wenchuan earthquake, it appears that it will not be as deadly – latest reports are 193 killed, and more than 12,200 injured.

But now, as Chinese soldiers have arrived and begun assisting people in this latest earthquake area, the questions have started again in China.  This time, the questions are not about corruption leading to collapsed buildings, but rather, whether local officials can be trusted to properly handle the influx of relief funds. Here in Hong Kong, local legislators have delayed sending a $100 million HKD ($13 million USD) donation for relief efforts in Lushan, over fears that funds might be misused. One Hong Kong lawmaker was quoted as saying “The mainland does not lack money but lacks a system. It would be wrong to hand over money if some of it is pocketed by corrupt officials.”

The other event drawing increasing attention from both Hong Kong and Chinese government officials is the recent spread of the H7N9 virus – another avian influenza (bird flu) virus. It seems that Hong Kong and China have been dealing with a long term ‘bird flu’ problem for several years, but now that the WHO has stated this new bird strain is ‘one of the most lethal’ flu viruses, it has gotten people’s attention.Riding the Hong Kong subway during SARS

In light of what happened back in 2003 (do you remember SARS?) health officials in Hong Kong are keeping a close eye on any new outbreaks of this bird flu virus in China.  With China’s ‘Golden Week’ national holiday coming up next week (May 1), government officials are concerned about the influx of up to 350,000 mainland Chinese tourists who will visit Hong Kong, and the possibility that one of them will inadvertently bring this bird flu virus to Hong Kong.  Hotels and tour agencies here are on increased alert to pay attention to the health of these tourists, so they can notify the health department should anyone become ill with bird flu-like symptoms.

As reports come from China each day of new cases of the H7N9 virus, health officials are doing all they can to try and prevent an outbreak here in Hong Kong.  I have seen an increased number of people on the subways and trains wearing a surgical mask – either out of fear that someone might pass the H7N9 virus onto them, or that they might give their cold or flu bug to someone else.

So how do we respond in light of our fears and worries – whether it be about earthquakes, deadly viruses, or something else?  As I was wondering how to conclude this blog, I came upon the following devotional thought that seemed so very appropriate.

George Muller said, “The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety.” It has to be one or the other. You can’t yield to both, because the two are incompatible.

In Mark 5:36 Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” Jesus spoke these words to Jairus as if they involve a choice. They do.

Faith and fear are often categorized as emotions, but they each come down to what you choose to think about.

Worry-driven thoughts chip away at your confidence in God’s ability to provide. Faith-driven thoughts have the power to knock fear off its feet.

You may not have to worry about the after-shocks from an earthquake rattling your home today, but it’s possible that you and your family may be facing another kind of disaster – financial or otherwise.  The spread of the H7N9 virus may be far away from where you live today, but it doesn’t mean that you or one of your loved ones isn’t facing another health problem.  So how should we respond?

Remember again and again what God has done before. Choose faith-driven thoughts. Sing again and again a favorite hymn. Recite again and again a promise from Scripture. These will open the door to a faith-filled perspective, driving fear out of the way.

Faith or fear. It’s a choice. One eventually overtakes the other, so let’s choose our thoughts carefully.

Until next time,

Joel & Debbie

PRAY WITH US:

Construction on the new Guangxi Provincial Training Center building was completed last fall, but to date, church leaders have been unable to move into this new facility. PRAY that both church leaders and training center students would have patience as they wait for final inspections to be completed.

The health of Debbie’s dad has continued to fluctuate over the past couple of weeks and we have noticed some signs of memory loss and confusion. However, he continues to remain at his home, and we are thankful for Debbie’s brother (Stephen) and his wife (Linda) who have been the primary care givers on most days.  PRAY that God would give them strength and wisdom for this responsibility each day.  PRAY that Debbie’s dad would have a sense of security and peace as he faces changes in the time ahead.

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Hong Kong by the Numbers

10 03 2013

It is the mark of a truly intelligent person to be moved by statistics.
~
George Bernard Shaw

In the pursuit of sharing some insights into the city where we now live, I thought I could use some statistics to give you a glimpse into Hong Kong.  There were many different areas I could have researched and mentioned here, but I came up with a list of 6 factors that I believe are somehow all inter-related.

Hong Kong is not a large place area-wise, and isn’t all that populated compared to many other major cities in the world.  But when you put the two together – 7 million people living on 407 square miles (1,054 sq. km) of land mass, it makes for one of the most densely populated countries in the world.  That means there is an average of 18,000 people per square mile, compared with Canada (9 per sq. mile) USA (84 per square mile). If you are a little bit claustrophobic you might want to prepare yourself before coming here for a visit! You’ll especially notice this when you get up close and personal with all the other people riding the elevators with you.

Hong Kong Skyline

Some of the skyscrapers on Hong Kong Island

So it makes sense that in a city where land is limited, you will need to build taller buildings in order to meet the demand for office and living space.  Hong Kong continues to hold the # 1 ranking as the city with the most skyscrapers – for the 6,593 high rise buildings (100 meters / 25 stories or taller) and for the 1,316 skyscrapers (200 meters / 50 stories or taller). All these skyscrapers make for a wonderful view over Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbor – but at what point will they run out of land on which to build these impressive buildings? One of the latest proposals for dealing with housing needs in Hong Kong is something called the Bionic Tower, which if it is built would be 300 stories high and house 100,000 people.

With land at a premium, most families are unable to afford to buy a single-detached home, and instead live in one of the many multiple residential dwellings scattered around Hong Kong.  But it doesn’t come cheap – whether it’s buying an apartment or some other form of residential real estate, Hong Kong has one of the highest home prices per square foot .  A recent report had Hong Kong ranked as the city with the second most expensive real estate – an average of $4,570 – $5,050 USD per square foot of property.  When compared to the most expensive city in the USA (San Francisco – an average of $421 USD per square foot) it’s no wonder that a high percentage of people in Hong Kong live in apartments smaller than 700 square feet in size.

If the place you live in is relatively small in size, you probably won’t want to spend a lot of time there. But in order to get wherever you want to go – work, school, shopping center – you need a way to get there.  Most people in Hong Kong do not own their own vehicle, but rather rely on public transportation to get around.  I believe that Hong Kong has a world class transportation system – with more than 11 million passenger journeys made every day on either railways, trams, buses, minibuses, taxis or ferries. The centerpiece and probably most frequently used of transportation here is the MTR/KCR – subway/train system with 82 stations covering 108 miles of track.  In 2012 it was ranked as the 10th busiest subway in the world – 1.444 billion riders in 2012 – an average of 3.96 million people per day. Again, if you are little bit claustrophobic, I wouldn’t recommend riding the subway here during rush hours – it can get a little crowded!

Hong Kong Subway

Hong Kong Subway

Many of those who use public transportation on a regular basis are students, as they make their way to one of the primary, secondary and post-secondary schools scattered across Hong Kong. Education is highly valued in Asia, and Hong Kong is no different.  There is much pressure on students to excel at their studies, and a good amount of their time is given to education. Recently primary students in Hong Kong were recognized for their academic prowess, ranking #1 in the world for reading/literacy, # 3 for math, and #9 for science.  And if that wasn’t sufficient to swell the heads of most Hong Kongers, then a recent (but yes, controversial) study has Hong Kong ranked #1 with the highest national IQ – (107).

You would think with all these high rankings and accomplishments that Hong Kong would be a happy place.  In spite of the fact of being one the world’s top three financial centers and ranked #1 for global competitiveness, it was only the 70th ranked city for worldwide quality of living.  The most recent Satisfaction With Life Index, that included Hong Kong in their report (2006), showed that people here weren’t quite as satisfied with life as a lot of other countries – Hong Kong was ranked #63.  So maybe it goes to show that being # 1 in economic and academic endeavors doesn’t always lead to happiness, and that a city is more than just all these facts and figures – there needs to be more than just these factors in place to bring meaning to life and to individuals within a city.

In the end, Hong Kong will be assessed by more than all of its accomplishments and world rankings. As someone once wrote, “Life it is not just a series of calculations and a sum total of statistics, it’s about experience, it’s about participation, it is something more complex and more interesting than what is obvious.”1 Whether you come to Hong Kong for a short visit or stay for a longer time to work, we think you’ll find it to be an amazing city – come see for yourself!

Until next time,

Joel & Debbie

PRAY WITH US

Thank you for your prayers for Debbie’s dad.  We are thankful that he seems to be making some progress in the past two weeks, but PRAY for continued strengthening and that his one eye (re-attached retina) would continue to heal.  PRAY that Debbie’s brother and his wife would have wisdom and discernment for the decisions they are required to make as the primary care givers for Debbie’s dad.

Joel will be traveling to Guangxi this coming week (March 11-18) to meet with church leaders in three key cities.  PRAY for wisdom and discernment as he talks with them about various church construction and leadership training related projects and has the opportunity to share with them on a deeper more personal level.





The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

16 12 2012

How do those of us living in Hong Kong know that Christmas is approaching?  Well, since it hasn’t snowed here in over 37 years, and since the temperatures have been unseasonably warm recently (70-75° F; 20-24° C) we have had to rely on a couple of other indicators to remind us that it is Christmastime.

One of the first signs in Hong Kong that reminds Christmas-in-HK-2012-016us that Christmas is getting near is the appearance of Christmas displays around town.  It seems as though each of the countless shopping malls spread across Hong Kong go out of their way each year to put together the most unique Christmas display for shoppers to come and look at.  Over the years we have seen every imaginable color of Christmas tree, along with numerous characters in these displays that go beyond what we traditionally associate with Christmas.  In fact, this year at one of the malls closest to us, they have an orange Christmas tree with a Garfield theme!

But in addition to those Christmas displays and signs in shop windows advertising Christmas specials, there’s one more indicator that lets us know that Christmas is near: Christmas music.  In stores, malls, and just about any place where music is played, the songs and carols of Christmas (in English) can be heard across Hong Kong. It is true that many businesses use the Christmas season as just another marketing ploy, but when else can you hear music about Jesus played in shopping centers day after day?

Today as I walked through a mall, I stopped to see if I could hear any Christmas songs being played.  At first I couldn’t hear anything with all the noise from the hustle and bustle of people Christmas-in-HK-2012-004all around.  But then just when I thought that the carols had been drowned out by the sound of shoppers, I stepped into one of the many stores in this mall, and was greeted by the sound of beautiful voices singing “When a Child is Born”, followed by “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”.  Hearing those songs reminded me again of the real reason for Christmas – a time to celebrate the birth of our Savior.

So while those of us here in Hong Kong won’t be going out caroling in the snow this year, it still is the most wonderful time of the year – a time to share true joy, peace and hope with those around us.  Take time to slow down from the busyness of shopping and preparing for Christmas to listen to and maybe even sing some Christmas carols this year – celebrate Jesus and all that His coming to earth means to the world and to us personally!

Until next time,

Joel & Debbie





Test Your Hong Kong I.Q.

30 08 2011

We’ve put together a little quiz to test your overall knowledge of Hong Kong.  As you’ll see, it covers a wide range of issues that will challenge your may or may not have seen lately in the news.  The answers are listed below (we’ll use the honor system here!). How much do you know about Hong Kong?

1) Which of the following is the correct translation of the Chinese characters for Hong Kong – 香港?
(a) Happy Valley   (b) Fragrant Harbor   (c) Seaside City   (d) Barren Rock

2) What is the predominant language spoken by people in Hong Kong?
(a) English   (b) Japanese   (c) Cantonese   (d) Mandarin

3) Which of the following items would you order at a Hong Kong restaurant?
(a) Cheong Sam   (b) Dim Sum   (c) Dai Pai Dong   (d) Lai Bun Dim

4) Hong Kong is on the same latitude as which one of the following cities?
a) San Francisco, CA        (b) New Orleans, LA
(c) Havana, Cuba            (d) Caracas, Venezuela

5) What symbol currently appears on the Hong Kong flag?
(a) Yellow Stars   (b) Chrysanthemum   (c) Bauhinia Orchid   (d) Union Jack

6) Hong Kong was ceded to Britain by China as the result of what war?
(a) Boxer Rebellion          (b) Second Sino-Japanese War
(c) World War I                (d) First Opium War

7) The 8 million residents of Hong Kong live on about the same amount land as which of the following?
(a) Los Angeles   (b) Luxembourg   (c) Maui   (d) Rhode Island

ANSWERS!!

1) Which of the following is the correct translation of the Chinese characters for Hong Kong – 香港?
ANSWER
: (b) Fragrant Harbor.
In Hong Kong’s early history, camphor wood from an incense plantation in Sha Tin (New Territories) was transported to Tsim Sha Tsui (TST)(Kowloon) before being shipped to other parts of the region.  The camphor wood gave the area a pleasant smell and TST at one time was called ‘fragrant wharf’.  The large island to the south of TST was (and is still) called Hong Kong (fragrant harbor).  Hong Kong’s deep water harbor continues to be one of the busiest in the world with 250,000 ships visiting the harbor each year. Hong Kong has one of the busiest container terminals in the world. Interestingly, when Hong Kong was first occupied by the British navy in 1841, Captain Charles Elliot (the first governor) described it as nothing more than a ‘barren rock’.

2) What is the predominant language spoken by people in Hong Kong?
ANSWER: (c) Cantonese.
Both Cantonese and English are official languages in Hong Kong, but nearly 90% of the population speaks Cantonese.   Mandarin (also referred to as Putonghua) is the official spoken language of Mainland China.  Cantonese continues to be used as the primary mode of instruction in most Hong Kong public schools but Hong Kong is moving towards becoming a trilingual city (Cantonese, English & Putonghua).  After the handover in 1997, roughly 30% of Hong Kong people had a working knowledge of Putonghua – now it’s estimated that the figure is around 50% and growing.

 3) Which of the following items would you order at a Hong Kong restaurant?
ANSWER: (b) Dim Sum.
Dim Sum is small treats (literally translated ‘touch the heart’) implying that you can eat ‘to your heart’s content’ and are usually eaten sometime between mid-morning and early afternoon.  The dishes include such delicacies as steamed or fried buns, dumplings, or spring rolls with a variety of fillings – meat or shrimp as well as vegetables. It goes without saying that you will share a pot of tea (Oolong, Chrysanthemum Jasmine or Green) with your meal of dim sum!

FYI: Dai Pai Dongs (literally – “restaurant with a big license plate”) are open-air food stalls that sell a variety of ‘fast food’ to their customers including congee (watery rice gruel with peanuts and/or bits of meat); instant noodles with ham, egg, luncheon meat or sausage; milk tea; sandwiches, to name just a few.
Lai Bun Dim is Cantonese for a souvenir store.
Cheong Sam
is the traditional high collar, one piece sleeveless Chinese dress for women.

4) Hong Kong is on the same latitude as which one of the following cities?
ANSWER: (c) Havana, Cuba.
Hong Kong is located just a little south of the Tropic of Cancer, and is on nearly the same latitude as Havana, Cuba; Kolkata, India; Mandalay, Burma; and Honolulu, Hawaii.  The climate in Hong Kong is classified as tropical monsoon. From January to April the weather in Hong Kong tends to be cool and humid, but from May through September it’s hot and rainy, with the humidity taking its toll on many people.  By October the weather begins to cool down and dry out, providing more temperate conditions through the end of December with sunny days and cool nights.

5) What symbol currently appears on the Hong Kong flag?
ANSWER
: (c) Bauhinia Orchid.
The symbol on the current Hong Kong flag is a white Bauhinia orchid on a red background.  The ‘Bauhinia Blakeana’ was named after the British Governor of HK (1898-1903), Sir Henry Blake, who was a keen botanist and discovered this genus of orchid on Hong Kong Island in 1880.  Prior to 1997, the Hong Kong flag included the Union Jack, as it was one of Great Britain’s colonies.  The flag of the PRC (Mainland China) is red with five yellow stars – one large star surrounded by four smaller ones.

6) Hong Kong was ceded to Britain by China as the result of what war?
ANSWER: (d) First Opium War.
Hong Kong became a crown colony of the United Kingdom in 1842, when China lost the First Opium War (1839-42).  Hong Kong slowly replaced Portuguese Macao as a key port for those wanting to bolster their trade with China, and eventually became one of the leading ports of Asia and one of the most successful colonies of Great Britain. The areas of Kowloon and the New Territories were granted to the British in 1898 as part of a ninety-nine year lease signed by the Peking Convention.  In 1984 the British, under Margaret Thatcher, agreed to return the whole territory of Hong Kong to Mainland China.  The Joint Declaration of 1984 promised that Hong Kong would retain its system and autonomy under Deng Xiaoping’s slogan of “one country, two systems”.

7) The 8 million residents of Hong Kong live on about the same amount land as which of the following?
ANSWER(a) Los Angeles [469 mi2 of land] which has an estimated population of 3.8 million people.
With a total area of 426 square miles (including the harbor and sea) Hong Kong has one of the highest population densities in the world. And yet, since much of Hong Kong’s terrain ranges from hilly to mountainous with steep slopes, less than 25% of the territory’s land mass is developed, and about 40% of the remaining land area is reserved as country parks and nature reserves. Most of the territory’s urban development exists on the Kowloon peninsula, along the northern edge of Hong Kong Island, and in scattered settlements throughout the New Territories.
Here’s the area and population data for the three other places in the quiz: Luxembourg – area of 998 mi2 (population: 511,000); Maui – area of 727 mi2 (population: 118,000); and Rhode Island – area of 1,045 mi2 (population: 1 million).

Let us know how well (or badly) you did on the test!

Until next week.

Joel & Debbie Chute

PRAY WITH US

Janelle safely returned to the USA (Azusa Pacific University in LA) this past Thursday.  We PRAISE God for His guidance in providing housing for the coming year – one of her roommates is an MK from Peru! PRAY for God’s enabling and strength as she re-adjusts to the new time zone (jet lag – yuck!) and as she prepares for another semester of classes that will begin on September 7th.
This Friday (Sept. 2nd) Debbie will attend an ICS school-wide leadership retreat focused on discussing plans and strategies for the future.  PRAY that we would all have ears to listen to one another and that God would guide us to cast a unified vision for the school.





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





Put Your Best Foot Forward

5 04 2011

One reality that you can’t escape when you come to Hong Kong is the amount of walking you’ll do.  There’s a great public transportation system in place which makes it fairly convenient getting around town.  Since most people here do not own a car, they rely on the public buses, subways, ferries, taxis and trains to get from one place to the next destination. But no matter where you’re going, or what type of public transportation you use, you’ve got to do a fair bit of walking to get there – walk from your apartment to the subway station, walk from the subway station to your office; or walk through the mall to get to the grocery store.

That’s the reality of living in Hong Kong – and for the most part we don’t mind it.  But of course, there are exceptions to the rule.  When you’ve been on your feet all day long – the last thing you want to do is to ‘walk’ home.

Another part of walking in Hong Kong is learning to deal with the crowds.  After all, with nearly 8 million people on 426 square miles of land (1,104 sq. km) there aren’t too many places you can go where you won’t find other people.  And with most people using public transportation, you’ve got to learn to navigate your way through these crowds.  In fact, while our three kids never drove a vehicle during their teenage years here in Hong Kong, they got great preparation for driving on a crowded freeway just by learning to safely make their way through the crowds of people on the streets of Hong Kong.

One of our former co-workers (who will go un-named for obvious reasons) used to ‘play’ a game on his way into the office.  He took several forms of public transportation, and the goal was to get from his home to the office without bumping into or running over other commuters along the way.  For every person he bumped into, he lost a set amount of points.  If he intentionally ran over a person in his way – he lost all of his points.  Some days he made it to the office without bumping into anyone; some days he had lost all of his points before he got to the office, and needed a few minutes to quiet himself before starting his day!

If you were to walk down one of the sidewalks with us, you would notice several different styles of walking.  Here are some examples: ‘the saunter’ – not really in a rush to get anywhere but usually walking in the center of the sidewalk or path;  ‘the stop and go’-  I think I’ll go here, no maybe there, no maybe I need to go back over there.; ’talking on the cell phone / playing games amble’ – too involved in their conversation/game to notice where they’re walking until the last second; ‘the drift’ – not to be confused with ‘the saunter’  as these individuals find it difficult to walk in a straight line; the ‘dodge and weave’ – this person becomes an expert in finding or making spaces to pass others in an efficient fashion; and ‘the power walk’ – they’re in a rush to get from Point A to Point B and you probably don’t want to get in their way!

One of the challenges in living overseas is being able to learn the local customs and manners.  But beyond that, we have to adapt our ways to fit into the culture.  We’ll let you guess our preferred walking style while we’re here in Hong Kong!

Until we ‘bump’ into you next time.

Joel & Debbie Chute





Time for a Break

30 03 2011

Like many of you back in North America, March is a time for a week-long vacation for students, and here in Hong Kong (at least at most international schools) that is also the case.  This past week was spring break for students and teachers at International Christian School – a chance to catch their breath and get some rest before the final push towards the end of the school year.

But what do we do as a couple now that all three of our children are back in the USA?  In the past, we would plan family vacations – whether it was heading off to the beach in Taiwan or a trip into China to see the sights – but now as empty-nesters, what do we do with our week off?

Fortunately for us, this year the decision about what to do was made for us a couple months ago as our son Nathan and his wife Jasmine planned to come to Hong Kong for a 9-day visit.  There’s a Chinese proverb that says: 有朋自远方来, 不亦乐乎 – “How delightful it is to have friends come from far away to visit.”  And it was indeed a delightful time for us.

It was a great privilege for us to host Nathan and Jasmine, and spend time with them during the past week.  They spent the week exploring the many areas of Hong Kong – Nathan was able to introduce Jasmine to many of the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of Hong Kong, not to mention the various forms of transportation here.  We were able to join them for several outings, had many meals together, and had good competitive fun playing games together at our apartment.

For Nathan, it was extra special to be able to return “home” and introduce Jasmine to the life and environment that contributed to his personality and way of thinking. He was also able to see how life has changed since he left in 2004, and how some of his friends have changed in the past couple of years.  He also had the opportunity to reflect on how God has led him over the past years since graduating from high school, and of course, there was the tour of the new school which was built in 2007.

For us, it was more than just having family come for a visit.  When you live overseas as long as we have, any time that you have together with family is regarded as a special gift.  Being able to spend a whole week with our son and new wife marked the longest length of time we’ve had together with them. We have come to value times like this to be together with the two of them, to hear what is happening in their lives and how God is leading them.

The time slipped away all too quickly, and they have already flown back to their apartment and jobs in the Kalispell, Montana area. Good-byes are never easy –but as we hugged them and said goodbye before they boarded their airplane, it was with the hope that we might be able to see them again this summer when we return for a visit to the USA and Canada.  We’re already looking forward to that opportunity to re-connect with family and friends.  After all, 有朋自远方来,不亦乐乎 – “How delightful it is to have family and friends come from far away to visit.”  Who knows – maybe we’ll be able to see some of you!

Until next week,

Joel & Debbie Chute