Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Our Hong Kong/China Trip 2011

First of all, let me clarify this for those that are not familiar with the geography of Asia…
Hong Kong is not part of Japan, it’s now part of China and what is referred to as a Special Administrative Region. Hong Kong was a British Colony for about 100 years until 1997 when it was returned to Motherland China. Although China is a government run by a Communist Party, Hong Kong was promised economic and certain political autonomy for 50 years in 1997.

Hong-Kongese have been enjoying the freedom of speech, travel and trade for as long as they were under British reign, unlike our friends in Mainland China (We refer to the term Mainland China because in Hong Kong is comprised of Hong Kong island, many little islands and the Kowloon Penninsula).

So, when you meet someone who’s from Hong Kong, you may notice they’d like to emphasize their hometown as Hong Kong, since there’s a distinctive difference in many ways between Hong Kong, Mainland China and Taiwan. In case you wonder why it matters to us to clarify.
Besides, we are taught growing up the many things to be proud of Hong Kong, such as it being the 3rd largest financial city of the world (just behind New York and Tokyo) in the 70’s and 80’s. It’s nicknamed as “the Pearl of the Orient“, the perfect mix of the East and West, and “Shoppers‘ Paradise“. Hong Kong is a metropolitan, known for its food, fashion, fine luxury hotels and free trade policies that welcome all savvy investors and capitalists. For several years, the Hong Kong International Airport was ranked the Best of the World. The list goes on and on….

Just a little interesting fact of my recent discovery… Hong Kong houses Asia’s oldest Jewish synagogue, Ohel Leah, translated as Tent of Leah.

Alright now, I am ready to share with you about our 2011 trip to Hong Kong/China…
We arrived to Hong Kong airport after 20 hours of traveling by plane 1 week before Chinese New Year in late January 2011. We could not wait to see my niece, who was born just one year ago.

As usual, my mother has arranged an array of fun places and activities for us, mostly to show off her adorable Chinese-Jewish grandchildren from America. As she’d like to say to her Christian brothers and sisters, “You know, Jesus was a Jew and you’ve read lots about the Jews in the Bible, have you actually seen a real Jew before? Well, here they are!” Beaming with pride, she points to her grandchildren.

There’s no shortage of mouth-watering and delectable food in Hong Kong, dim-sum (little sampler of dumplings and a wide variety of vegetables and and/or Meat creations), Western Cuisines, Thai, Japanese, Pakistani, … you name it, they have it there. But Cantonese (Southern Chinese) Cuisine is most flavorful of all, and I may be biased.

This year, we were to spend Chinese New Year with my sister’s in-laws in Hubei Province traveling from Guangzhou there by the newly built High-Speed Rail (the world’s fastest train going at about 220 mph) for 3 hours.
The High-Speed rail was everything and more than what we’d expected - fast, clean, nice attendants servicing us. The train was swept at least every 30 minutes, which was impressive.

We arrived to my brother-in-law’s hometown, a small city near the Province Hubei’s capital at around 5:30p.m. Exhausted and hungry, we were glad to be there right before our usual dinner time.
Well, to our disappointment, we had yet another hour and a half to travel into his ancestral home in a little remote village for family dinner. We drove on a “road” which was not “built” for car travel, a very bumpy ride to say the least, but we were thankful that we came just in time missing 3 blizzard snow storms that swept the village and left.

We made the best out of our stay there to see my sister (Salina)’s in-laws in the cold/wet weather and our daily highlight of sundae and coffee at a local McDonald‘s in a town away from the home village. We were nevertheless warmed up fast by the coal-heated fire and the family’s warm hospitality.

The most wonderful news was that Salina’s mother-in-law recently had come to know the Lord through her friends. She even had the opportunity to go to church with her in the remote mountain village, the least expected place to have a Christian community. We are in awe of God’s amazing love!

Day 1
We were then swept away on another planned trip with my mom a week later. We flew into Guilin airport on a sunny day and spent a day with some of our relatives there.

Guilin is a picturesque historical city with the peaceful Li River running through its heart and breathe-taking mountains as its backdrop that draws admirers around the world to come take a glance of its striking beauty… that’s what we call our hometown, where my great-grandfather built his family home when he held a high post governing the city and literally was my grandfather’s birthplace.
Before the Communists took over China, my grandfather took a trip with his new bride to visit his in-laws in Hong Kong.
Shortly after, the Communist government closed the border between China and Hong Kong (was a British colony then) and very similar to the Berlin Wall, my grandfather was separated from his large family for over 4 decades before he could see them again face to face.

He escaped the unfortunate fate of being in the class of “bad element“, the wealthy and the bourgeoisie, which his parents were persecuted severely to death by humiliation parading on their knees on broken glass, all family properties confiscated.
By God’s grace, our family repurchased our ancestral home and there, we got a glimpse of what once my grandfather called home.

On this particular trip, we spent only one day unlike other times when we ran around the city as typical Guilin tourists, for this time our itinerary was to tread 8 cities in 7 days, staying in different hotels every night. We finally got to experience what it’s like to be people performing on tour, being in different cities each day, except we were not performing.

You may be wondering what was the hustle-and-bustle about… well, I was asking myself the very same thing. All I knew at that time was we were going to places to see the people and places my mother was involved in with her business ventures and to meet people whom they all respect and admire my mom as their “mom” or “big sister”, one that loves her homeland and hometown so much that she takes pride to bring friends, family and business prospects into the Guang Xi Province to experience what she boasts about.

Little did I know God had something else in mind.

Day 2
We traveled most of the day and arrived in Mung Shan, a developing business area. We met the town’s mayor that my mother became acquainted with. We were treated as very special guests.

On Day 3, we visited a church that my mother has helped renovate. There we met some wonderful sisters and brothers in Christ. On this rainy freezing day, they allowed me to worship with them on the keyboard. I do not know how to play and sing Chinese hymn songs, so I began to sing in English and translating it to Mandarin, as well as encouraged them to worship along.
We sang the simple but yet powerful Name of Jesus in Chinese with all our hearts in unison. That was beautiful! I saw their pure heart to want the Lord more, I was touched by their child-like faith in the Lord’s love regardless of their circumstances and life struggles. I was blessed by being with them and asked the ladies if they wanted to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. After explaining what it is, they were thrilled to be prayed over.
God gave me words to speak over this little church for His amazing glory to cover it and so many would step foot into it and be blessed. It was a glorious day despite of the chilling rain.

Day 4
We rode in a car traveling half of this day. There’s no such thing as drive-thru in China. It’s really a very American concept. I can’t even envision my family grab some McDonald’s burgers and get on the road. In spite of being on a tight schedule, we stopped on the road for a 5-course meal. Fortunately, I was able to grab a quick coffee from a McDonald’s in the city on our route. We arrived to a small city named Rong Shui to stay the night.

After dinner, we took a walk around the block from our hotel.
Lights, music, everything red and gold was constant reminder of New Year which everyone was celebrating, joyous sound and sight filled the air. Vendors were everywhere selling toys, flowers, street snacks (which we tried to avoid fearing for unsanitation), and, aaaaaaah… flying lanterns?!

We had just watched the Disney movie based on the classic fairy tale, Repunzel. Repunzel’s father king and mother queen flew up thousands of flying lanterns for all to commemorate their missing daughter princess.
Our children were excited to see an actual flying lantern. When the fire was lit up inside, the lantern inflated to be almost 4-foot tall.
We bought 2 of the lanterns, one for each of our children. My mom and some friends worked together trying to figure out how to fly the lanterns without a manual. The process was drawing excitement and a crowd began to surround us, we all watched with anticipation hoping that it’d work. Eventually, we saw the lanterns tugging and getting pulled into the wind, we all slowly let them go and watched them rise up into the sky carrying our quietly spoken wishes and prayers.

Day 5
We began our day early to get on the road again. After breakfast, we traveled into a tiny village to be part of a Miao ethnic New Year celebration. Many do not realize that majority of Chinese we see are of the Han tribe. There are officially 56 ethnic minority groups in China, each with their own customs, dialects, and cultures. They integrated into the mainstream Han culture through work and inter-marriage, nevertheless, many still maintain their ethnic identity as rich heritage inherited.

In this remote village of Miao tribe, the women dressed in brightly colored traditional costumes and over-sized silver headdresses. Women were dressed in medium-brown outfits embroidered with vibrant turquoise, orange and pink stripes and flowers, little white balls of fabric dangled all around their skirts. We walked through vegetable and meat vendors, apparently a great day for business with hurls of people passing by.

I could not believe my eyes when I saw a man working on someone’s teeth on the side of the road. He advertised his dentistry service for a bargain there. Only in China! We felt like walking back in time hundreds of years ago when this was just a typical ordinary day in this little town.

We finally arrived to our hotel where we’d spend overnight.
“You can’t be serious!” were the words that slipped out of my mouth when my mother pointed to show us the hotel, which is a creek away from the tourist center. The ONLY way to get there was by walking on a bridge made up of wooden pieces and wires.
No, this was not one of our camping trail activities! This was the ONLY way to get to our hotel room! We were an hour and a half away from civilization, I just realized. Our room had no telephone, no heat, and no hot water; besides, temperature drops drastically lower there in the evening than the city.
All these were not even in the information given to our tour group leader, my mother. “It’s okay!”, I kept telling myself, “it’s only one night. Lord, help us survive it!”

My family went out for the tribal dancing and fireworks in the evening while I stayed in to get rest and hoped time would pass faster. I even missed the horse fight that my children filled me in all the excitement of the fights. I was even too tired to think about the violence I may not have approved them witnessing.

Day 5
We were finally leaving the horses, beautiful mountains behind and headed back into the modern world. I was exhausted and couldn’t wait to take a warm shower in a nice hotel room…
When we arrived to our hotel room in Nanning, I instantly knew God had heard my prayers. “This is an incredible room!” thinking to myself, stuffed animals awaiting on the beds for our children. Electrically-operated windows and curtains, movement-senored lighting throughout our large room, it was divine!

After yet another banquet-style dinner, I was ready to crash and rest on the bed I’d been dreaming about…
But wait, I was overcome with a chill, stuffy nose, sore throat; apparently a bad cold had been brewing inside of me. Worse of all, I couldn’t sleep. I kept tossing and turning, watching enviously my sweet children sleeping.

I began to whine about this trip, again, that I’d not signed up for. I’d rather be in Hong Kong shopping, or going to a spa with my sister getting a massage or a well-deserved facial. I didn’t understand all this running around, the stress of traveling finally took a toll on me.
Wait a minute, I thought I heard my daughter coughing too. Oh my, I couldn’t believe it!

In the little hotel room we stayed at the night before was horrendous. It was so cold, and yes, I was reminded how blessed we are as Americans that many never would see a squat toilet in their lifetime (a hole in the ground) sorry, don’t mean to get graphic here, just as many Chinese may never see a sitting toilet.

I was thankful for the sanitizing gel we brought along, apparently bathroom soap was not a necessity in some areas we traveled to.
Surprisingly our children didn’t complain at all for all the inconvenience that so annoyed me. They rejoiced and had a fun time everywhere we went.

Unexpectedly, I felt an impression that God was speaking to me, not audibly but sort of like a whisper in my heart, “Do you remember what you have asked me for before this trip?”

I suddenly was reminded saying to God, “Lord, Let every step we take be claimed for your Kingdom!” I had declared that God would take claim for all the territory we covered on this trip before we even knew about all the miles we’d tread. He’s right, this trip is unprecedented and purposeful, and we may never travel like this again.

But whether I realized it or not, we were bringing God’s presence into places and people that have never heard of Him. The ladies we prayed with in the little church, the liveliness and joy our children brought to people which God’s placed on our path made an impact beyond my comprehension.
We were planting seeds, through our faith toward the Creator and Savior Lord, God can and will do more than what we perceive with physical evidence.
Now I know, this particular trip was bigger than me, bigger than my minor cold and inconveniences. I just wished that I’d been more intentional partnering with God, but He knows our weakness, and it’s in our weakness His strength is made perfect, His grace is sufficient for me!

As we left Nanning, my attitude shifted and was refreshed for the rest of our visit in China. It’s as if God hit the reset button for me. I felt better physically. I was able to enjoy the rest of our time there with friends and family.
Chinese New Year is a time of celebration, rejoicing for a renewed season. The old has passed and new hope awaiting.
We greet one another with blessings of what this new year will bring, as believers we trust in the only Hope-Giver that sustains our lives through the good and the bad. Children everywhere welcome red pockets with a smile and a ready greeting and blessing, as grown-ups hand them these little red envelopes stuffed with money signifying good-luck blessings.
Blessings received and given simultaneously.
A tradition has been carried on from thousands of years and will be carried forward for many more years to come by Chinese around the world.

Every time I go home, God teaches something. I feel like He gives me spiritual gifts to bring there, and He gives me some more to bring back to America, the place I call home now.

I pray for my people, they are no different from any other peoples, equally loved by our Creator.
A people that our Father God has been waiting for and longs to see them come back one by one into His loving arms as He gently whispers,

“Welcome home, My child!”

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Do you know what gets your blood pumping, really pumping?

For many years, I have envied people that always knew what they love...what they were born to love and do. Some people are just passionate about cooking, like my husband, he can turn boring food into the most salivating gourmet creation.

As for me? I remember my mother telling me, "You carry different knives all over you but none is sharp" in Chinese. In essence, it means, "You are jack of all trades, master of none".

Over the years, I've accepted that, I had a load of interests, have tried many things but found none that really got me going to pursue long-term. Without even praying about it (which once again proves how awesome God is), I was driven to study the bible with Jewish rabbinical insights and background and even began my Hebrew studies. The result... It blew the roof off me (it raises my roof) or shall I say I've found my "sweet spot"!! After 30-something years of wandering without pursuit, God pointed to me and said, "That's what you were made for!"

I have long asked to see the Word of God to come alive in ways I could feel and that it would carry substantial weight for me to live by. I love how He puts things in places that we only need to pay attention, we see how intricately His Word was bound together in sync. I am also fascinated by the Talmud, the Jewish tradtions and Rabbinal literature with intriguing stories that many times fill the gaps of scriptures. Though some may seem far-fetched, they are so interesting!

Whenever I study or listen to a teaching and allow the Lord to show me new things, I feel my whole body...every fiber of it... my spirit and soul just come alive with ecstatic excitement running through my veins. I am reminded of the scripture that says, "The secret things belong to the Lord, but the things revealed belong to us and our children.".

What is your sweet spot? What gets your blood pumping?
If you don't know, it's not too late. Ask, you shall receive. He's a GOOD FATHER!! Ask, and keep asking until you see what's to be revealed unfolds to you.

Remember, His timing is ALWAYS perfect!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Building Unshakeable Faith!!

Have I abandoned my blog for so long again?

Time is just flying by while we are having fun. With homeschooling the children, new direction and opportunities in mentoring, taking the kids around for the classes and activities, taking up classes myself, we are constantly on the go while trying to honor a day of rest in the week to recharge and go again.

I am sure I am not alone. Nonetheless, there's so much peace in my life, true peace amidst busy-ness.

I don't know how I could function without the Lord in my daily life, though it may sound cliche to some.
God cares about the big things and in every detail. I feel even without a schedule, He leads me to know when it's the perfect time to do laundry.

Putting God first is not just about giving Him the first hour of our every day, it's about having Him centered in our lives. When you care so much about someone, you want to be included in his/her life. That's how God is to me, and it's such an awesome thing to teach our children.

The "God-concept" has to be established in our children's own lives for that relationship to stick. I hope they will not say one day, "I believe... because my parents told me so." That's like an open door for someone to come in and knock that faith wall down and to lead a child astray when he has no clear and strong conviction of his/her faith.

With the Lord's help, we teach our children to hear God speak, first-hand, we teach them to talk to Him as their Best Friend. We teach them to ask God questions and listen for Him to answer. We see God's work in our daily life, and His presence in the smallest blessings.

God's real, He's not made up, He created all the beautiful things around us to remind us of His greatness and beauty. All will wither away, only God, His Word and the things of His Kingdom stand for eternity.

That, my friend, is the kind of faith built on the Rock, unshakeable... no matter what kind of bricks the world tries to bring on!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Enjoying our post-holiday weekend!!

Since we celebrate Hanukkah, we've already wrapped and unwrapped all our presents by Dec. 19th this year. As everyone is still shopping and preparing for Christmas. We are relaxing and enjoying our week.

As the end-of-year approaches, I am reflecting on how far God has brought us. The kids have grown a little bigger, we've grown to know how little we are comparing the Creator of the Universe and yet He cares so much about us.

I have always been a dreamer, but not until recent years that I have begun to write down most all my dreams as well as my children's dreams. Last week, I dreamed that a friend of mine told me she thought she was pregnant. After waking up from my dream, I found that interesting since she just got married and came back not long from her honeymoon. I called her later and shared my dream with her. To my surprise, she responded, "I think I may be with child." Then, this morning, I got a text from her saying, "I am pregnant!!!" I am amazed how the Lord still speaks to us through dreams and visions. I am amazed He chose to reveal that joyous news with me first, as if I had some part to play in this. And, of course, I joined my dear friend in thanksgiving and prayers for this precious life God is creating in her.

I am always in awe of God's GOODNESS, it does endure FOREVER!

Friday, August 7, 2009

My Swimming Babies


So cool to see our kids enjoying the water so well, since I was never a swimmer.
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Circus Fun 2009 Review

We went to the Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus a few nights ago. It's one of annual events that our family looks forward to. Last year's theme was "Bello-bration". The character, Bello, was so full of life and there seemed to be a lot of excitement as you'd expect for a circus. This year's theme is "Over the Top", and the main character (clown) is Tom and through the show, he follows the ringmaster to get his hat. There was a few moments that the skit dragged out a little too long. But there are the usual favorites, the parading elephants, tamed tigers, adorable ponies, the acrobats, .... .

Tom the main clown, at one point went into the audience and picked out a random man and sang him "Happy Birthday". Then, he turned around finding a young lady on the phone in search for her seat. He teased her since it was 30 minutes after the show had started. He took her phone and tried to lure her out onto the circus ring. She was so embarrassed. Then the whole act lasted about 15 minutes, we all felt so bad for the lady, "give her back the phone already!" we were thinking. But, my husband said that it couldn've been an act. Whether it was or not, it was not an entertaining filler of the show. Anyhow...

The most impressive part I feel was the 7 motorcycles went into a sphere-cage, one by one, forming a circle inside the sphere, then they started the engine at full speed. They were defying gravity by running full speed going around and around the internal parameter of the sphere. We were looking with amazement, as if something impossible just has been achieved.

The trapaze artists worked their magic, flying while doing flips in mid-air.

We did miss the Human Canons this year that were missing in the final act, but overall, we enjoyed a fun time as a family and was able to walk away without paying $20.00 for a piece of plastic toy that is valued at $1.00 elsewhere. That was empowering!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The writing juice is flowing...keep flowing!

I just attended the most amazing Writers Conference hosted by Roaring Lambs Ministries this weekend. I am super-energized and feel the writing juice flowing...

There were several dynamic speakers who talked about their experiences as writers, their journeys, their struggles with God's grace weaving through all of that. They are genuine and have such passion to see others writing gifts manifested to change the world for the Kingdom. They are sincere and want to get to know each person they meet. I am so inspired by their love for God and people.

One of the keynote speakers was Dr. Gene Getz, a 77-year-old godly man who has authored over 50 books, and has pastored and taught at bible colleges. His current project is a "Principles to Live By" Study Bible, each page with principles and cross-references with other parts of the bible, questions to ponder on that is cross-cultural and ready to be translated without bias. He said he starting publishing books before anyone knew what "an agent" was while discussing the topic of whether a writer needs an agent. During lunch, after walking away for a few minutes and returned to our table, Dr. Getz and another speaker were at our table. I was thinking to myself, "What are they doing sitting at our table?" Well, I joined the conversation along with my friends there. We were in awe that we were dining with 2 of the speakers and one of them being Dr. Getz. As we were sharing, they listened just as intently to us as we were to them. They were interested in the little projects we involved in compared to the gigantic, world-changing ones they are charging over. Dr. Getz has been to Hong Kong to speak to pastors at churches three times, and I quickly interjected, "I'm from there." He then expressed his interest to go back there again and we saw his love to share the Word of God with the Chinese people.

My favorite radio program is "Point Of View" on Christian radio 5 days a week. Two of the hosts were there, Kerby Anderson and Penna Dexter. They are as down-to-earth as anyone can be. I had the opportunity to talk to Penna extensively which was amazing, she kept asking questions about me and my writing and home-schooling. I was surprised that she really wanted to know. She was even delaying lunch just so I would finish telling her about me.

I saw the love of Christ transcended in people at this little conference like no other. Everyone walked away inspired, with fear dissipated and ready to pen down words straight from Father's heart, doing our little parts and not feel little as the world would have us think. Questions like "How can I possibly make a difference?", "Who would even care what I have to say?" or "How my life experience would be relevant to them?" are no longer relevant. I LOVE THAT! Like my friend, Sacha said, that day was a total divine appointment.

There's been a desire in me to write a book for sometime. It was my dear husband, who first approached me about it 3 years ago. He gave me an idea and said, "now get started!" I said, "HOOOOOOLD ON, Mr.! I am not sure about this. I have to pray about it." Then, my sweet God-father said to me once prophetically, "Oh, I know you are a writer, you'll be writing a book alright, I know you'll write 3 books." WOW, okay, Lord, I am listening.

I believe there's no coincidence. I have been distracted for sometime by different things in life, interesting and fun projects. But, I was drawn to go to this writers conference, and feel that "The time to write is now."

At the conference, I was inspired by some veteran writers, the most sincere people and genuinely desiring to see other believers succeed and fulfill God-given purposes for us with our writing gifts.

Writing takes discipline, it takes prayers,diligence and sensitive observation. I find myself energized, refocused, organizing, prioritizing and strategizing, by God's grace!

I have slowly started the process to write, and look forward to all that God is downloading in me to write,and to express what's on His heart for His beloved.

So, read on... I will keep everyone posted.