A Change of Pace

We’ve left Hong Kong, but it still feels like a holiday and that we’re going to return someday soon. I’m sure the reality of it won’t really sink in until Kristin and I rent a U-Haul and finally move all our stuff to a new flat in Princeton. For now, we’re relaxing and settling in to a new pace of life.

Hong Kong was extremely busy. Everyone even said so. All you have to do is ask, “How have you been lately?” and the default answer will most likely be, “I’m really busy!”

While enjoying some froyo with our friend Andrea Bremmer (another former Valpo student), Kristin mentioned that she’s going to miss the buzz of life that is always zooming in Hong Kong. I hadn’t really thought of that before. I knew that I would miss my friends, the ultimate scene, the food, and the church communities we were part of, but I didin’t realize how much I had adapted to the “big city” life.

Elkhart, Indiana, USA (‘Merica!) just isn’t the same. There’s family here, which is amazing, but life is just slower. Instead of waking up late and staying out late, we’re getting up early and going to bed early. Part of the problem is jet lag, but moreover the reason for our elderly-like sleeping schedule is that everyone just goes to bed early here. There’re no late night activities or late night socializing over drinks at a pub.

It’s weird. But that’s just the way it is. I guess this is one area I’ll have to continue to adapt my frame of mind. For any of my friends in HK reading this: Enjoy the crazy-busy pace while you can!

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Learning to Let Go

It seems that my wife and I can’t seem to figure out a place to stay for any secure length of time. This might seem deceiving since we’ve been in Hong Kong for nearly five years. However, we’ve been on a series of one or two-year contracts. Scratch that, I’ve been on one or two-year contracts, and Kristin’s contract is indefinite with a three-month-notice clause. Regardless of these details, each year or two seems to bring about the question, “What are we doing next year?”

Lately, we’ve been asking that question again.

'Uncertainty ' photo (c) 2010, Nicu Buculei - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/Will I stay at Island ECC as a youth pastor?
Will I even be a youth pastor?
Will Kristin stay at Union Church?
Will Kristin enroll in graduate school full time?

We’ve talked and debated a number of ideas and plans. However, there’s no clear path just yet. Fortunately, we’ve been clear-minded enough to just let go of all this planning. There are some actions we’ve taken to open up our prospects, but nothing definite. The month of February has been and continues to be a month of praying and waiting on God to reveal some next steps for us.

If you’re reading this, please pray for us. We don’t want to be anxious about anything. We simply want to be obedient servants of God. If we’re in His hands doing His work, I think He’ll make us content wherever we end up – even if it’s exactly where we currently are doing the jobs we currently have.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV)

The Help

It was a lazy Saturday for me, and I’m perfectly okay with that! I watched two movies today, Contagion and The Help. Both were completely different movies, though both were thought-provoking. Hong Kong has been a hot spot for viral scares in recent years, and Contagion clearly reflected it in spite of being a fictitious movie. I don’t think there’s a way for me to really prepare for such an epidemic, so I think I’ll just accept my fate and do my best to survive if that time comes. I’d rather not live in paranoia while I’m perfectly healthy.

The crazy take-away from Contagion: Humans touch their faces between 2,000 and 3,000 times per day. Whoa.

'Concrete Picnic' photo (c) 2007, J Aaron Farr - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/As much as I liked Contagion, I was way more impacted by The Help. I was stirred inwardly (slightly more manly way of saying I was a touch emotional) by the struggles that the women went through. Racial conflict ran so deeply for so many years in the United States that it’s no wonder many citizens still have problems to this day.

Even though race is a still a hot topic in the US, I’m quite surprised that it’s not talked about more in Hong Kong. In fact, I’m surprised that there hasn’t been a book or movie written in a similar fashion to The Help, but based in Hong Kong. I’m pretty sure there are almost 300,000 helpers living in HK. That’s about 4% of the current population, and a huge percentage of people who’s story is not getting told.

'IMG_1235' photo (c) 2008, Ines Yeh - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/I’m not the expert by any means, but I know many of the helpers in Hong Kong are not treated well, particularly by the local Chinese population. Though there are helpers from many backgrounds, most are primarily Filipino and Indonesian. And although so many are well-educated, their respective countries are rather poor and have fewer job opportunities than a place like Hong Kong. For example, a trained teacher or nurse from the Philippines or Indonesia often earns MORE money as a helper in Hong Kong. That is crazy and messed up.

In spite of so many well-educated helpers who are simply trying to squeeze out a respectable living and lifestyle, they are regularly looked down upon, viewed as inferior, and often mistreated. Even their living spaces are as small as their salaries. For more details, check out this well-written blog entry, Maid in Hong Kong.

I hope that someday the HK helpers’ stories will be told and widespread change will occur to improve their treatment and conditions. In the meantime, I hope that I can personally be moved to be kind and outgoing to the helpers here. I know I’m not an instigator of oppression, but I also hope I can be an instigator of change for at least a few helpers, even if in small ways.

“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” -1 John 3:18