Wednesday, August 21, 2013

What Are We Doing Here?

Today I mailed off our application for permanent residence status in Hong Kong. In effect, we have immigrated to Hong Kong (China!!)  I had mixed emotions about this upgrade in my residence status. On the one hand we will now enjoy some benefits, such as cheaper visas into mainland China and fewer paperwork headaches. But more it raises the familiar question, “what am I doing here?!” It was never our goal to become Hong Kong citizens. It was as if it happened by accident. And it is a big reminder that we have lived her seven years (well technically six since we took a sabbatical leave for a year). 

Way back in 2006 we came to Hong Kong for a “two year experience”. One contract has turned into the next and currently we are living here indefinitely. When my sister-in- law came to visit us this summer she asked the honest question, “why are you here?” So in the spirit of my own processing, here are the pros and cons for life in Hong Kong. Maybe it will help some of you better understand why we are here as well (or not!)

What I love about Hong Kong

*ICS (International Christian School) the school is a really special community. I am convinced that there could not be a better teaching job in the world for Jason. He gets to teach Bible, disciple and coach high school students. The students come from different backgrounds, many from non- Christian families.  In addition to great students he has tons of prep time, lots of resources and great co- workers

*Staying Home- Jason’s job allows me to stay home. It would be hard for us to have this same life- style living on one teacher salary in America, especially a Christian school. My priority right now is to be home with our kids. I have an amazing group of mom friends here, without whom I really couldn’t survive

*Education- Now that Josiah and Annette are reaping the benefits of free tuition we have one more reason to love living here. We feel ICS is an extension of our values and we love that they are learning scripture, learning to serve and hopefully learning a little Mandarin along the way. 

* Travel/ International Lifestyle- Next month when we go to Thailand Josiah will have visited his 10th country.  We love how accessible so many different cultures and countries are to us. We value how diverse our friendships are and the perspective it gives us on the world

What I don’t love about Hong Kong

*Space- This is for sure the biggest one. We are pretty used to a 650 sq foot box, but I still don’t prefer it. Even more that the functionality of a dishwasher or linen closet, I crave the beauty of a fire place, high ceilings, a wrap around porch etc. I would love to have a grass yard for the kids and a place to stick some flowers in the ground.

*Family Distance- It is hard missing Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthdays etc with family. Technology does help and it is amazing now that we can text photos across the world (for free!) but it is never the same as sitting over coffee. Currently my three siblings all live 1,000 miles apart from each other, so even if we were in the states, we wouldn’t all be close. 

*Pollution/ Weather- certain times of year we get yucky air from the north and gloomy skies that get this California girl down

*Cultural/ urban frustrations- there are some things about this culture that will always be hard for me. Every culture is depraved and needs redeemed, but it seems easier to find fault in cultures not your own.  As long as we live here we will have “Hong Kong moments” of frustration at the crowds, greed and rudeness. 

Overall we seem to think the scales tip in favor of being here. But really it is not a mathematical equation. On our sabbatical year off he sought the Lord for direction for our future. We laid down our lives and said “we will go anywhere God”.  We were surprised that we sensed him pointing us back to Asia. At the same time he gently reminded me, “it’s not where you are, it’s who you are.” So for now, we are here. For all the good, beautiful and ugly. I believe (hope) that he will send us somewhere else someday, but for now I am thankful for all the blessings he has provided us in Hong Kong.

And just because everyone tends to think building and concrete when they hear Hong Kong (we have that too!) here are some photos taken a couple minutes walk from our house. We are so thankful for green!!
The promenade where I run

Wu Kai Sha beach

                                                                              Josiah fishing with his buds

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Farewell Tooth

Today was full of surprises. It began with school being canceled for the kids thanks to Typhoon Utor. Then mid- morning the tooth Josiah had been wiggling for a month fell out. This was obviously a big deal to him, but surprisingly it was to me too. I remember the day I discovered that tooth poking through his gums. Ahem, I may have actually blogged about it here (I think I suffer from a blogging sickness). A lost tooth to me marks the end of little days and the entrance into the gangly elementary stage.

I have been wanting to start journaling with Josiah so today to mark the occasion Josiah wrote his first sentence, "I lost my tooth"
Jason and I had not discussed how to commemorate teeth in our family. We don't do Santa Clause or the Easter Bunny (yes, we are that family). Josiah has a very active imagination so we didn't want him to actually believe in the tooth fairy, but we also didn't want to rob him of childhood fun.  The solution?  Jason (all his idea) dressed up like the Tooth Fairy and pranced around the house this evening. It was hilarious. Obviously. Josiah now knows that Dad is the tooth fairy and was very excited to put his tooth under his pillow tonight.

It wasn't until the kids were in bed that I mentioned to Jason that he may have started a family tradition he will have to repeat 60 more times. Ha, ha.
My favorite photo of the day was this self- portrait Josiah took on his camera capturing his new look. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

4 Months

 - This month brought the arrival of Annabelle's voice. She laughs, coos, and squawks. The squawking just started and is quite loud. It is making me re-think my previous assumptions about her mellowness.
- She also is rolling over now both ways and no longer minds tummy time
- Annabelle is grabbing and playing with toys and her new favorite- toes.
- She laughs when she sees Josiah, but still saves her biggest smiles for daddy.
- As of our appointment today she is 13.3 pounds
- This girl spits up big time! Before Annabelle I never even knew why babies wear bibs. Now I get it. I am almost always smell like sour milk. She seems to especially go for it on Sundays during church
- I totally forgot to get her a visa for living in Hong Kong. The moment I realized was in the customs line trying to enter the country. Opps! Fortunately they let her back in!
- While I am certainly savoring her babies days, I am not doing a good job documenting them (then again I guess I am doing that right now, so no more mommy guilt)
 Josiah and Annette are having their tummy time too!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Bohol, Philippines- Part 2

 After our precious time at Arms of Love (see Part 1) we were ready to re- lax. We spent two nights at a beautiful beach resort which was the exclamation mark to our summer. The setting was lovely, the rain stayed away and we had the beach and pool to ourselves. I cherished the time with my mom and sister who so lovingly traveled around the world to be with us . They are both so fun, positive, generous and encouraging and I was deeply blessed.

 One happy Naana and two content kiddos

 Some serious talks over breakfast
We love sister Coffee Time

We are now re- entering normalcy. Jason was in staff meetings 8 hours after stepping off the airplane. I'm uniform shopping, getting haircuts and other back- to- schooling in preparation for the kids' start on Wednesday. I'm ready for normal, because I like our normal. But, I sure would love to be back in that hammock just one more time. . . 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Bohol, Philippines Part 1

 Annabelle's first flight

I love it when worlds come together. So, you can imagine my excitement to bring my US family to our Philippines Family at Arms of Love Children’s Home. It truly was a dream of mine to minister alongside my family in a place so close to my heart. I know that both parties were blessed!

It has been two years since we lived in Bohol, Philippines with the beautiful children at Arms of Love. Thanks to facebook we have stayed in touch a bit over those years. My sister Angela sponsors two of the children, Rollie and John Lloyd, so meeting in person was very special. It was also Annabelle’s first time out of Hong Kong. She got lots of love and the Filipinos said she looked like a “dole” (doll). 

 Our visit this time was short, sandwiched between the end of summer school and the start of school, but oh so sweet. The weekend was full of hugs, crafts, food, playing, worship and laughter.  I am so proud of these kids and just delight to be with them. Aren’t they beautiful!?

We brought along mosquito nets and all 5 slept on one bed, Philippines style!

 Josiah and Annette jumped right in with morning chores

Annette was too young to remember Arms of Love however it was fun to see her jump right in. I didn't get as many photos of Josiah, probably because he was off playing!

 Sunday School at Church
 Making bead necklaces with "Ate (aunt) Angela"
House Mama Ines with my Mama
 These are our sponsored kids, Stephanie and Henry. Love them!!!
We had a fun time swimming at the beach together Sunday

In 2011 we had the privilege of riding along in the jeepney the day that Willy and Raymart were brought from the garbage dump to Arms of Love. You can read more about that here. Now, 2 years later it was incredible to see the change in these boys.  They are calm and confident, assured that they are unconditionally cared for and loved. What an amazing, powerful thing it is to be called a son and be brought into family.

If it is on your heart to sponsor a child like Willy or Raymart, please leave me a comment or check out