Update.

So, blogging seems to not be my thing. Honestly, when I sit down and have free time, the last thing I want to do is be on the computer.

BUT–it has come to my attention, that while we are living far from people we love, it is important for us to keep people in the loop.

With that said…

I am PREGNANT!

26 Weeks Pregnant

We found out we were pregnant early December, and come mid-December, I started to experience what the books call “Morning Sickness.” I am not quite sure why they call it morning sickness. More like all-day sickness, but maybe morning sickness sounds cuter and pregnant women are supposed to glow and look radiant right!? I was sick all day from 6-21 weeks! You heard me right. It was not a pretty sight over here. Good thing is, the nausea has lessened and I only get sick about twice a week now.

We had a blast telling our parents we were pregnant. We told Rus’ parents over Skype and mine in person when they visited over Christmas.

I finish my job in four weeks and it is a bittersweet season. I LOVE teaching. especially sweet, cute, Chinese children, but I know God has called me to something else. Love and teach the precious child He has given to us for this next season. It will be a transition, but God walks with us in transition. And for that, I feel confident in what God is and will do over this next season of life.

We could use prayers regarding transition and health care during this pregnancy. American care for pregnant women is a luxury and I am learning to trust God in the midst of Him changing my expectations. God loves us and takes care of us. (Even if it means me taking a urine test out in a public squatty potty, due to the hospital not having a bathroom I can use!)

I will soon update you on some of my pregnancy stories. They are too good to not share with others.

Experience in Pictures.

Living in Hong Kong can be overwhelming at times. The sheer amount of time spent commuting on foot makes me tired just thinking about it – hauling groceries on multiple trains, buses and up flights of stairs can be exhausting. On top of that, I am just starting to communicate Cantonese phrases the average three year old has mastered.

People ask me to describe our life in Hong Kong and it is hard to sum up what this experience has been like for us. I think photos perfectly describe our past year.

Perplexing and Overwhelming

Freeing

Exhilarating

Messy

Reflective

Claustrophobic

Exposing

Frustrating

And colorful

I remember visiting Hong Kong for the first time. On the flight home I told Rus that I could NEVER move to Hong Kong.

God had different plans.

Since then I have had even more thoughts of, “I could NEVER…”

And God continues to remind me that He works through weak people.

Over the past year I have learned that I am really weak. And that God in me is the only good thing.

Rus and I are reflecting on the past and praying about what God has in store for our future.

Hike.

When you want to get to a beach here, you have to work extra hard in getting there. No driving up near the pier, unloading your cooler, chairs, towels, umbrellas, portable cribs, 14 bags of beach toys or any other stuff we might think is necessary to have for a fun and successful day at the beach.

The beach here is kind of freeing in the sense of not needing a lot, but the hike to get to the beach can be brutal in such a hot and humid environment.

The view at the peak of our hike.

Looking down at the beach.

Look at this steady bridge we found!

Great documentation to show how "touristy" I looked all day.

Boating back to Sai Kung

This is Sai Kung. Each day, you will find a number of people on the dock waiting for the boats to come in after a long day of fishing. What a great way to buy fresh seafood! (sorry for the blurry photo)

Wiped after a long day in the sun.

Great day and great friends.

Richard and Cherith.

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one” -C.S. Lewis

These two have become dear friends of ours (they are pictured in the middle row, wearing stripes). Part of our small group is pictured below at a goodbye dinner for Richard and Cherith.

They are both from Northern Ireland and measure things in stones and fortnights. The Irish vocabulary is so foreign to me. Richard has a much thicker Irish accent and doesn’t like that our American accents have rubbed off on Cherith. 🙂

Richard and Cherith have been in Hong Kong working with a company that has incredible vision and purpose. We will have to tell you about what they do the next time we are in the US.

Weird how transient this city is. I am still not used to the fact that good friends could only be living in the same country for a calendar year, but thankful God merged our lives together over the past year!

By Faith.

“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.” –Hebrews 11:8-10

Recently I have been asking “why?” The Bible is filled with stories of God’s people asking “Why?” of God, from the people wandering through the Sinai with nothing to drink in Exodus 17 to Psalm 10 in a cry for justice.

Looking at Abraham, the Bible does not give an account of his response when God asked him to leave his country (Genesis 12) other than the fact that he went. But later on, when God starts telling him about children and heirs as a progression of the same promise, Abraham, in his old age, is a bit inquisitive. I can only imagine that at many points in his journey Abraham was at the very least curious about what God was doing in his life and why God had called him away from his home.

“Why” shows a yearning for what we know should be, like the yearning described in Romans 8:19 in the context of suffering (which is an important point). When you think about it, the question “why” most often comes up when there is some dissatisfaction with (or at least a misunderstanding of) the current state of things.

Who wouldn’t be discontent in times of difficulty or hardship? Isn’t that normal? Shouldn’t we want to know a good and just reason for what we are going through? At our core, we want to know that justice will be served, that we are headed somewhere good and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. And not only that, but we want to arrive there quickly.

The world in which we live does not offer anything that can completely satisfy this longing. In our world, the ruthless and insolent succeed, orphans go on without parents, people die of starvation and preventable diseases and the cycle of poverty is endless. In the lives of many these situations are hopeless. They accept what the world has given them and they live and die without even the hope that tomorrow will be better than today.

This brings us to the crux. What is the answer to the question “why?” Why God have you brought me here? Why do you have me in this situation? Why is the world the way it is?

This is where we must redirect our focus from ourselves to the one who is all-knowing, all-powerful, just, sovereign and good, and we must redirect our focus from the present to eternity. God is always working for His glory and our good. Why should I rejoice in suffering? (Romans 5:1-11) Because God is good. Because God is sovereign. And because God is saving us. On the cross Jesus suffered for our sake (1 Peter 3:18). And as his followers we have the privilege of sharing in His suffering and also in His glory (1Peter 4:12-16).

We have been adopted as his sons and we are heirs of a better kingdom (Romans 8:15-17). And despite what happens in the short term, we know that we are marching on towards eternity with Jesus.

We can walk through the hardest of times, times when we do not understand, times when we lose things we love, times when we have no food to eat, times when the people closest to us are against us, because we have a relationship with the God of the universe, because He is trustworthy and because we are looking forward to being with him forever. It is for discipline that we must endure (Hebrews 12:7) because God is leading us, he cares for us, he loves us and he is making us more like him.

Whether or not we know the reasons “why,” by faith, we (like Abraham) obey God and walk through difficulty because we are looking forward to the city that God has designed, a heavenly country where God himself will be with us and will be our God (Hebrews 11:13-16, Revelation 21:3). And whether or not we know immediately “why” some things are the way they are, we ultimately know that God has promised us a better country and more importantly, we know that God cannot and will not fail to uphold his promises.

He is worthy of our obedience in all circumstances.

Family.

How do you start to describe two weeks with family!?!?

Some might say: irritating, dramatic, boring, etc.

But my list of words look different: incredible, hysterical, nurturing and real.

Before Rus’ family came to visit, I had a bit of anxiety. “What if we don’t connect like we did before?” “What if we have grown apart in different ways?”

These thoughts and feelings were real.

So we waited at Arrival Gate A with hopeful anxiety. Looking forward to what Hong Kong looked like with the addition of family.

And the moment we made eye contact was like no other.

I wish I could describe the way heart strings feel when you tug on them. In one moment, I was reminded of these tightly woven strings. No distance could detach or loosen what God had sewn together.

The flood gates opened as the arms embraced.

More to come on the family adventure in East Asia.

Crickets.

You might notice how shy this one is in the picture below.

Usually our conversations go something like this:

Me: “(Name), did you finish your math homework last night?”

Student: …

Me: “Did you put it in our homework basket?”

Student: …

Me: “Well, what if you go think about it for a little bit, and when you figure out the answer come back and tell me.”

3 hours later…

Student: “yeeess.” (Said in the softest, mouse-like voice ever)

A friend I work with laughs because she says I have developed a mouse-like voice when speaking back to this student. You just can’t speak at a normal volume when someone is whispering to you. It just doesn’t seem right.

She is adorable. And even though she has only spoken about 20 words to me all year, hopefully she can sense my love for her.

Singer.

Meet Singer.

You got it. Singer loves to sing! He sings walking up the stairs, taking a spelling test, or pretty much anytime he can open his mouth. He usually sits next to me during Chapel, which is always a show. As soon as the violin starts, Singer puts his right hand in a ball, brings it up towards his mouth, and sways back and forth singing into his fist. At first, I thought he was being silly, but honestly, this is just the way he worships.

Singer is meticulous about his work. I will be giving directions to the whole class and before I can finish, Singer shoots his hand straight up in the air and attempts to ask 20 questions. After reminding him of his superb problem solving skills, his little chest calms down and he starts taking deep breaths.

I think he is going to be a creative screen writer. He loves publishing books in our class. His last free-writing book involved his dad chasing him around the city trying to catch him. It was a bit of a horror, and after discussing with him to make sure everything was okay at home, I tucked it in my teacher file thinking it would be best to not send home. I didn’t want the parents to think I was teaching him how to write horror flicks.

Happy Tuesday folks, and stay tuned. Tomorrow you will be meeting Crickets.

Pigtails.

I decided to give you a glimpse into my classroom. The personalities and stories are too good for only one adult to experience.

I like to call this one George. George Costanza that is. She acts just like him.

This one makes me laugh every day. She is funny, particular, and has the cutest dimples on the block.

Every time we celebrate a birthday, she tells me she is “allergic” to chocolate. Really, she just doesn’t like chocolate.

She loves to use English words that are too difficult for her to pronounce. She starts of by strongly pronouncing the beginning of the word and then trails off by the end.

She wants to be a paleontologist and tells me she collects bones. I ask her what kind of bones. And she tells me all kinds. I ask her to bring some bones to school and she tells me her “collection is too large.”

She tells me a new joke each morning. Usually, these jokes involve a zebra. She recently published a joke book in our writing center titled, A Million Jokes About Zebras. I thought we were close to ending our streak of zebra jokes, but it looks like we have only begun.

More to come later. Tomorrow you will be meeting Singer.