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Saturday, April 9, 2011

Is it time to say goodbye?

It is still Saturday here. We are invited out to dinner tonight.
Sunday we will go to Jen's church. The peak. The longest elevator in the world. The Regal Hotel.
we are spending the night at the airport hotel due to our early flight and an hour ride from Jen's to the airport.
So, we will see if I have computer time before take off.

thanks for reading - you are welcome to comment ( thanks Jeanne )
this has been quite an experience - I know it will sink in a little more when I get home.

Bilbe Study X 2

Thursday night we go to the English speaking Bible study. These are friends of Jen and we meet in the apartment of Ruth and her husband. Jen forgot to tell us that they have dinner there. We have eaten at McDonald's. There is always room for carrot cake. Maggie is a home economist and her cake is almost as good as Mrs. Adamson's ( my favorite recipe )
They are discussing "What's so Amazing about Grace". I have not read the book, but Ruth has some questions printed out for all of us. many share what their mental picture of God is like - does it relate to their own father?
Ruth has also written out several statements about God and stuck them up around the room. We each pick one to give our own interpretation - feelings.
They have some very open sharing and then it is 9:15 and time to stop. We visit a little longer, then the bus ride home.

Friday night we go to the Chinese speaking Bible study. This is the group where Rob attends, and we were there on Sunday. The study portion is actually a message on Romans 12:13 to the end. Romans 12 is my favorite chapter, so I go over the verses in my head. Rob interprets for Darrell. Jen shares some with me. Enough to think about,in a certain area I am struggling with.
Then we go into small groups and write out our prayer request. ( there is some interesting snack on the table - dried squid?- i try it )
Then we go around the room and speak about our prayer request, then we pray silently and then Tommy closes in prayer.
It is almost 10:00 and a large group head to a nearby restaurant. 14 of us sit around a table. We all get a bowl of rice and then about 10 different dishes are put on the center turn table, as well as tea, and we stuff ourselves. ( We have eaten at McDonald"s at 6:00)

We follow the usual preparation. The waitress brings several tea pots. Tea is poured into the glasses, sloshed around and poured out into large bowls. The chop sticks are dipped into the hot tea. Now everyone has a "clean" bowl and utensils. More pots of tea are brought and we drink our hot tea out of glasses.
Along with the rice we have, BBQ pork, chicken, squid, tofu, goose,beef, two vegetables, and an egg dish with oysters.
No dessert. No room for dessert.
We have been invited to join these friends, so we are their guests.
They are very generous.
They all agree that they will come to America and we can treat them.
Ringo drives us home - it is about 1:00. There is so much activity on the street you would think it was 5:00.

Friday, April 8, 2011

More Reflections

The walk to the train is through a park.
There are lots of different trees - most have a label and I have taken photos - I hope to add them when I get back home.
The roots seem to be above the ground. Jen says it is because the rain has washed away so much of the earth.
workers are sweeping, watering, and picking up trash, but there is very little trash. People do not litter. ( and no food or drink is allowed past the ticket area at the train station.)
There are toys for children.
There is an exercise station for the elderly-got a good picture of Rob and Darrell pulling a rope, up and down, up and down.
We have passed day and night and there is almost always someone "exercising".

Early morning the women are doing something that looks like yoga.

On the train there is almost always one lady putting on her makeup, or curling her eye lashes ( I wanted to get a photo but refrained ). And if there are five people seated, at least 4 of them have a game in hand or ear phones.

Entering Tower 6 ( Jen's ) the guard opens the door. When you are a natural blond they recognize you pretty quickly, so when I came back on my own, the guard let me in right away. In the lobby, there is only one button for the elevator - it is going up. Once you get to the 21st floor, and are ready to leave, there is only one button - you can only go down. Rob says, why would you want to go up?
Inside the elevator, you can press a button for a lower floor, but you really just want to go down, and shop, so you push one and don't ask any more questions.

There is a street vendor selling roasted chestnuts. I buy a bag and start to take a photo, but the elderly lady puts her hand up and shoves some money at me. I am not sure what that means, but Jen says they do not like their pictures taken. They think it takes away their spirit. So I put my camera away and we cross the street. Then Jen offers to take the picture. Just then the lady puts up her hand. The photo looks like she is waving at us.

Saturday Morning reflections

While you are sleeping, we are getting started on a new day. ( Saturday )
Darrell and Rob have some business this morning so Jen and I are on our own!!
First i use SKYPE and call my kids and sister.
Feels good to touch base with home, even though life goes on and is not always happy.

I think we will do a bit of shopping today. That is one of two things that we usually hear connected with Hong Kong. Food and shopping.
We don't have to go far. Jen's apartment is part of a large complex of apartments, restaurants and businesses. You would not have to leave Avon Mall. ( that is her address). They have a laundry, massage, hardware, grocery, 7 Eleven, cafes, child care, 10$ store ( like our $, sporting goods, enough???
But should we want more we will take the train.

You buy an MTR card. It is like a plastic credit card, and you load it with $$$. Then when you get to the station ( about a 10 minute walk for us ) you just swipe this card across the monitor and your entry is recorded. When you get to your destination, you swipe your card again, and the fee is deducted and the remaining $$ shows up on the monitor. WOW. And you can keep the card in your wallet or purse and if it is close enough to the surface, it will register without taking it out of your purse!
At the stations you are offered pamphlets, in Chinese, usually about houses to buy. Then there are the stores, McDonald's, bakery, etc, etc. etc.
Inside all trains there are T.V.'s The people in Hong value information. Even at the restaurants, they have T.V.'s. Ads tell you something worth knowing - if you know Chinese.
There is one car that is called the quiet car - no sound on the TV. In the rush time, which is mornings, afternoons and evenings, you have to be ready to move very close to the other passengers. It is like a cattle car, full, but you get on anyway.

Not sure where we will go today, but just being here is an adventure.

I am impressed with the behavior of the young people. They respect their elders. And I am impressed with couples that are on the train - maybe holding hands, but never smooching! Never embarrassing behavior.

Last night we were traveling in a van, coming home from Bible study, then dinner, it is now midnight. There is so much traffic. Lights and activity. But very seldom a horn. The rule is, if there is room for my car to merge in front of you, then you make room. It seems to work.
I have to admit, when you are on the upper deck of a bus and you are whizzing in and out of cars and buses, you just have to remember, there were no dents on this bus when you got on, so just trust the driver.

more reflections later, time to you know what...

A Big Day

Today is Friday
Today we went into China, carrying Bibles.
Though I had felt anxious during the week about what today would look like, I felt at peace, this morning and the entire time in China. I know many have prayed for us.

It started at McDonald's. We met Sebastian ( such a nice name, and a nice man. He was born in Holland, knows English and Chinese )
He put some Bibles in each of our back packs and suitcases.
Darrell and I had gotten our visa to enter China and paid $200. U.S. each. So we were praying that we could accomplish our mission.

some Bibles are printed in China and I do not understand all the details of why they are not accessible to the people who live in China, but someone else can answer that question.

From the train in Hong Kong we travel a very short distance to the border. We pass through the immigration and border control without a single question. Our luggage goes through a system just like in the states and we pick it up and off we go.

At this point, we make connections, by phone with a man who can meet us at the airport. So we hop on a mini bus and for about 30 minutes we see China through the bus window.

The weather is beautiful. The area has the same bright bougainvillea, but has much more greenery along the freeway than Hong Kong. Lush shrubs and trees and even containers of plants line the road. The city of Shenzhen is very modern. Huge buildings are everywhere. There are apartments and businesses. We passed Tiffany's and Hermes.

At the airport, we meet this gentleman, give him the Bibles and that is that.

Sebastian takes us into the airport and we pass the KFC and head right into the Chinese restaurant. I cannot tell you what I had, but it was Chinese. Sebastian cannot read Chinese, but he can speak it. So he was going by the pictures on the menu. all the items we ordered were noodles and.....
Very good. I even used chop sticks!

Before leaving the airport, we picked up some coffee at Starbucks!

Back in the mini bus, back to the train station, back to Hong Kong.
Mission Accomplished!

the day is not over, but it is time for a nap.
Darrell and Sebastian are making a second trip.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Hong Kong Women

Hong Kong Women
( they speak Chinese, but they are from Hong Kong )
Jen says, they dress they way they want.
They give themselves permission to wear what they like.
I like that.
Why do I have to be a grandma before I can wear what I like
(even if my kids don't like it?! maybe )
That also explains why they stand out in the mall in Bellevue, because they can wear boots that come to their thighs and a very short skirt and fuzzy hat.
Just riding in the train is an adventure. This morning it was prime time and it looked like a car full of cattle, but there was still room for more.
When you are a natural blond, you do stand out, but that black hair is so beautiful. Most is cut short, maybe to one side, fun sparkle clips.

I have on three layers, and some others are wearing a coat, others a blouse. But very seldom sleeveless. Even in the hot summer. ( Why did I bring 3 tanks and 1 long sleeve, I don't even have cute arms ).

They also tend to keep their legs covered. A very short skirt or short shorts, but legs in leggings. Stripes, pok-a-dot, black, patterns, you name it, they come in all varieties

I have never seen so many styles, but.... very few sandals. My toes are the only ones showing this morning.
Even in the summer, it is part of their culture to hide their feet. Feet get dirty, and are not pretty. But some of the younger generation are changing.
Jen has sandals, flip flops and painted toenails!

The colors in the train are mostly dark. I am wearing burnt orange and I can see one red jacket ( on a man ) and the rest are pretty dark.

At BSF this morning, I was the only one in our group with open shoes. Nancy was wearing very cute purple pumps. Several were in tennis shoes.
I was the only natural blond
One other lady was wearing a dress
I was the only one with sandals.
I find the Hong Kong women to be very pretty. Especially when they are sitting expressionless - they have fine features that identify them.

BSF in Hong Kong

We arrive in good time - thanks to both Rob ( who knows the MTR) and Darrell ( who knows BSF time )
I am greeted warmly and they have a name tag ready for me. Mabel ( ACS )shows me where my small group will meet, the ladies room, and back to the sanctuary.
The opening time is called: singspiration
We sing two hymns, the second is one of my favorites
I notice that I am not the only one with a little tear on her cheek.
I get to my group, just a small corner in the hallway, and my leader, Nancy, introduces me to the group. By now, there is more than one tear on my cheek and all I can say is "I am feeling homesick".
One of the ladies in the circle comes and gives me a big hug. Her name is Wendy. A little later Wendy brings me a tissue. I am feeling better.
Being a guest I assumed that I would not be called on without raising my hand.
Second question, from the notes, what would I like to share?
and so it went.
She called on me 5 times, even once for a challenge question.
It's a good thing we had already done lesson #25.
I was excused before ASK ( they did not pray after question #13 - though Nancy asked me if I had a request.....well, we are going into China tomorrow, safety and God's will.
I wish I had heard Candy's lecture to compare - I had to leave early for our flight.
The teaching leader was a substitute from another class. I don't know her name.
She was blond - no accent- and spoke very distinctly and not too fast.
A very good lecture -
Lots to think about.
Lots to pray about.

Hong Kong's greatest attraction!

Ocean Park!
we have arrived. It is soon after we enter the park that I realize the only way in, is by tram. If you know me, you know that I just might turn around at this point.
I am brave and there are 4 of us in the tram and we ride for a long time. Ringo takes my camera, so I now have photos overlooking Repulse Bay
( I am familiar with that because my sweet friend Bonnie Butler has lived there, so when I open my eyes, I will check Ringo,s shots )
This is a water/ocean park, so there are many aquatic adventures. Some like the aquarium in Seattle.
This park has a Panda exhibit.
Did you know that there is a breed of Panda that is red? looks like a chubby fox and sort of a raccoon face.
We are in line to take the tram back down when they announce that the line is very long, why not take the train.
If you can picture this, an underground train that takes you all the way down this mountain. O I forgot to say, this park is partly on a mountain.
the best attraction is the carousel.
All 4 of us take the ride. Rob get the seahorse, Darrell and I get a blunt nosed shark ( the name will come to me later )
Ringo is ahead of me, to take our picture, so I don't know what he is riding. I use that word lightly.
We are riding about as fast as I could walk on one foot. But the air is blowing in our faces and we are smiling.
We are ready to leave.
Next stop dinner.
But on the way, we stop at Stanley Park - that is a large shopping area that closes at 6:00. That is just about the time we get there.
Enough time to bargain for a few items.
Then back in the van
We have passed Repulse Bay - it is very lovely. Even though there are many tall buildings, close together, it has the feel of a quieter life. I am picturing you here sweet Bonnie.
Dinner time..
One more stop to pick up Ringo's wife - she has been at piano lessons.
Home by curfew: 10:00
Jen is quiet - she has had a very long and hard day.
Kathy is tired - she must be, not to even check her email.
Good night

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

today is your tomorrow

Yes, it is Thursday morning and in about 20 minutes I am heading to BSF. It starts at 9:30 and we are allowing 1 1/2 hours.

That brings us back to Wednesday - Destination: Ocean Park

The time slot was to be picked up at 10:00.
So at 10:00 we find out our friend Ringo is at work.
So we change plans and take the train to see Jen in her classroom and Ringo will meet us there.
Jen teaches at a private school - all those little people in their uniforms looking so adorable. As we pass through the school with her, the children passing by call
"Miss Jen" "Miss Jen". Everyone is smiling.
We are now ready to hop into Ringo's van and head....
to the travel agent, to get a better price for our tickets to Ocean Park
we might as well have lunch too.
We are pulling into the parking lot at Ocean Park at 2:00.
Now the fun begins,
but you dear reader, will have to wait, because
when Darrell says 20 minutes, he sometimes means 10
you know what that means.........

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

off to Ocean Park...

catch you later....

Hong Kong's Biggest Attraction

And you guessed shopping!

And that is what we did. You would not believe all the shops. Street level. One level up and two levels down. And in the street.
Amazing. And I wanted to make sure and let the vendors know how much I appreciate them so I shopped.
Jen and I were on our own some of the time but if we wanted a good deal we called Rob. He is really good at getting the price lower.
At one stop, I was unsure about a purchase and the conversion confuses me. Jen got the lady to lower her price from 70. HK $ to $35. and we still were unsure.Jen said it was ugly. So we walked away. The lady followed us and came down to $33. but I decided if Jen thought it was ugly, I better not make the purchase.
Another item which I was interested in, she got the price from $170 HK to $100. And I got it ( Nita, I think you will love it)

The biggest purchase I have not shown to ( you know who ). But I had to do it. It was the only vendor with the item. ( Tiff and Mimi, you should really like it )

That night we ate at the Spaghetti House.
Very nice.
On the way home, I had plenty of time to reflect
reflect on the privilege of being in Hong Kong
knowing these hospitable and generous people
to know that many friends and family are praying for us.
thank you
( and especially you Bonnie - I wish you were here, too)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Hong Kong's most famouse attraction!

You guessed it....Disneyland!
To get there, it is about an hour ride on the MTR.
So leaving at 9:00 and Disney opening at 10:00, I thought that would work out great.
Well it did, just not exactly like that.
We stopped first at the travel agent. She helped us sign up for a Visa to go into China.
But that required a photo. So we go downstairs and around about and find one of the booths that used to cost $0.25 and and you and 4 friends would pile in and have your picture taken. So for $5. each. we got that taken care. Back upstairs and the agent had found a better rate for us to spend the night at the airport. That was very good. Our flight is 8:00 in the morning. Monnday. So we would have to be there at 6:00 and it takes over an hour to get from Jen's to the airport. Enough said.

So now we go to the book store and pick up a book Jen has been wanting.

We are back in the train station and I use my $6. H.K. coins to buy a can of Nescafe coffee. ( thank you Maria for the coins ) I planed on saving it but I could not get it into the park, so I had to drink it.

It is now about 12:30 and we are at Disneyland! They have their own train with mickey windows and the entry is very impressive.But since Betty is probably the only one who would care about details, I will be brief.
We had been told that it was just for kids and lots of picture taking.We would be out in three hours
Yes, lots of picture taking. And there were lots of kids, but lots of adults and we had a great time. We stayed about 4 1/2 hours, and would have stayed longer, but had forgotten to take advantage of FP.
Had dinner on the way home
This time, Rob and I both have soup and Darrell has eggplant.
We did lots of walking today, and thankfully, my feet are back to normal size. They got pretty puffy on the flight, but all is well again.
O, did I say I went shopping at the Emporium. Found a Hong Kong Disney T shirt and a couple other mickey items.
I am smiling.
Bonnie, I thought of you often today.
It was a good day.

Jen and Kathy take the long road

Darrell and Rob stay for the remaining two meetings, in Chinese, Jen and I take our leave.
Our first stop was MC Donald's ( it is past noon )Jen loves their apple pie, so I have to try some. She has a hamburger and I have french fries and coffee. This is the best coffee so far. Very tolerable.
There are shops everywhere. Lots of them close together, and full of mostly one of a kind, one in each size. I found my size in some fun pants. The clerk then found several others, but that is just what they do. One was enough. Along the street ( this is Sunday ) buses coming and going like crazy. We find lots of finds. Jen does not have a good shopping companion very often, so I did my best to help her out.
Home. Nap.
Out for dinner to their favorite spot. Tonight we have several dishes that are not American Chinese believe me. The BBQ pork is a little sweeter and much bigger pieces. Jen loves minced meat with squid. Rob has soup - noodles, cabbage and something else floating on top.
By the time we get back home I try to check emails and can't get through. I try to add to my blog and it's all in Chinese. Since you would not understand my Chinese, I went to bed.
Today, it's all good.


So we arrived about ten minutes into the hour,singing in Chinese. Then we sang one more song - we sang in English, they sang in Chinese.
The Breaking of bread / communion
(remember that it is very necessary to be extra careful about germs)
The two men who helped administer the Lord's supper, put on plastic gloves. Then they took a small, thin cracker and broke it into very small pieces. As they came around to each of us, they put a piece into our hand. The "wine" was in a small beaker and when he was done filling those very small cups, it hardly looked like any was gone. But, enough is enough and it is all very precious to the Lord and believers regardless of the language or style.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sunday-a long day-a good day

(we are ready to go out the door to Hong Kong's greatest attraction: Disneyland!- so I will be brief )
Sunday..We eat breakfast at home and then allow over an hour to get to church.
We are a little late - no worries, they are singing, in Chinese.
The message is Malachi 3. I have my Bible and read the verses over and over. There is a translator next to Darrell and Jen is next to me. The only notes I could take were the verses themselves. robbing God. Return to me Those that feared the Lord, spake often to one another...Open the windows of heaven....The Lord listened and a book of remembrance was written.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Well it is Sunday morning in Hong Kong - Saturday afternoon in Seattle.
Yesterday between breakfast and lunch Rob lost his voice.
Bless his heart

He still took us around the area. This is just too big to describe.We can look out the window and see the housing for at least 10,000 people. There is a little gap between buildings where we can see off into the "hills".
We took the train a couple times - it costs $0.20 U.S. per stop.
We had lunch at home, a little rest and then off again.
Jen takes break dancing lessons. That is not what I picked. (It is not like Michael Jackson's stunts and struts). It is more like exercising ( I will come up with a better word later - I did get a little video )

Did you know they drive on the other side of the street here? This used to be British Hong Kong. So the cars have their steering wheel on the other side and you have to look the other way before crossing the streets. Also, they have only double decker buses! We are going to ride one to church this morning. I am still in my robe, so I better draw things to a close.

I have to say that Jen and Rob are so easy to be with and they love the Hong Kong way of treating guests so effortlessly and generously. We are overwhelmed.

Friday, April 1, 2011

After leaving Seattle on Thursday, we arrived in Hong Kong about midnight Friday, and it is already Saturday .
We passed so many tall buildings along the way, in the dark, but will be taking more photos as we go.
Jen, Rob and their friend Ringo met us at the airport. Ringo has a van, so we were able to get a door to door pick up and delivery.
Jen's apartment is in the New Territories. She is on the 21st floor. We are staying in the master bedroom. The bed is right up against the window - overlooking 6 other very large apartment buildings. 38 stories on the one directly across from us. The windows appear to be floor to ceiling and many have clothes hanging on a curtain rod. Many windows have iron bars along the lower 1/3 of the window. Jen's windows do not open, except one with a decorative bar across.
i am sitting on the sofa in the living room. I can see between two very tall buildings, a green hill and then a mountain beyond. This is so amazing.
I am not looking down.

For breakfast, we went to Jen's favorite Saturday morning spot. The other three had a Chinese noodle dish with tea. I had eggs, bacon, toast and coffee .
just a note: it is very important to wash your hands and be aware of germs here and there. We were served little plastic glasses of warm tea, but Jen put all the silverware into her mug. That gave an extra "wash" to the utensils. Then, just before visiting the restroom, she asked if I had any tissue. There is no "tissue" in their bathrooms.