Friday, March 30, 2007

A Social Breakthrough!

It's been oh, 8 months, and finally, I've had a social breakthrough with the local HK people. Yes! It hasn't been easy to get connected to the local folks. Sure, I enjoy great exchanges of smiles and hellos and have you eatens with my security guards (they're awesome), the people in the elevator, and I'm working on the folks at the wonton noodle shop down the road. I have short and sweet visits with the laundry mat people, the framers, the guy with the MP3 shop and the boys in the motorbike place. However, I have yet to walk into a local HKer's home, or eat out with the local people (which was routine when I was in China), until last night...

I had a little "tryout" with the tennis club in my area. In traditional HK style, they have too many people for too small a club, so they aren't really taking any new players. However, they were kind enough to "give me a look". Once I got over a bit of jitters and lost a game on double faults, I did okay, and had lot of fun. The ladies were much more experienced, and more skilled, but it was perfect for me because I was close enough to not destroy their game, but at the same time make gains from playing at a higher level.

Anyway, after they invited me out for supper, so finally I found myself eating real Chinese food in a real Chinese restaurant with real Chinese people. Awesome! It was fun. I also have a new taste experience to report. When it came out they were struggling to translate the name of the dish, so they decided it was the "airbag of a fish". Ha ha!!! Sounds tasty doesn't it? Why not?!! As I'm trying to chew the airbag, which was very chewy, but yet gooey, in the sort of gooey way that is somehow still chewy, they found the right translation: it's the thing that makes a fish float - the air bladder. I swallowed the chewy goo as fast as possible.

There you have it, after 8 months of living in Hong Kong, I finally ate with the locals.

Monday, March 26, 2007

New Favorite

If you like Matt Redman, you'll enjoy Jeremy Riddle. His new album, Full Attention, has been on "repeat" since I bought it (itunes)!

Here's a lyrical taste from the title track- simple but it sings a prayer that resonates in a real way...

May Your voice be louder
May Your voice be clearer
Than all the others, than all the others

May Your face be dearer
May Your words be sweeter
Than all the others
Than all the others in my life

Please keep my eyes fixed on You
Please root my heart so deep in You
Keep me abiding, keep me abiding
Keep me abiding that I
Oh, that I might bear fruit

May Your presence be truer
May Your presence be nearer
Than all the others, than all the others

May Your light burn brighter
May Your love go deeper
Than all the others
Than all the others in my life

Good Times in the Circle K

I had an awesome week or so and I thought, hoped and prayed that this whole syndrome thing was on its way out. I guess it's not finished with me yet! I wasn't feeling so hot this weekend, and I think God gave me a good laugh to lighten me up a bit....
So I was in the local Circle K (7-11 and Circle K's can be found on every corner, we still have those at home?- just reminds me of my older sibling's summer jobs), and all of a sudden there's a very loud crashing noise. I turn around to see the roof tile has indeed fallen to the ground, leaving a sizeable hole in the ceiling. Guess what fell out of the roof? It was a flying cat! Ha. The cat landed right by my foot. It would have been funnier if it landed on on my head (actually on someone else's head), but it sure made me laugh. So beware, you never know what might come flying out from the roof of your local convenience store....

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Thursday, 10:24 PM

The most exciting news of the week is that my little area now has a Starbucks. Oh, glory! I'm loving it! It's a ten minute walk from my house. PERFECT. I love how the new baristas repeat your order seven times. You know they are going to get that tall skim tazo chai tea latte JUST right!

And on the more meaningful side of life, tonight was round one of two days of parent-teacher interviews. Though I don't really look forward to this event, once things get rolling, I really enjoy connecting with parents. Oh, people are interesting and funny. I like feeling involved or at least informed about the bigger picture. I'm fortunate because most of mine are pretty easy- I'm the bearer of affirmations and encouragements. It's a sweet thing to be able to tell parents that their children are wonderful, caring, motivated students...and mean it with all your heart! There are some amazing parents, and it's a blessing to my life to know them and teach their children. Seriously, there are a couple of them that bring me to tears! Their love and desire for their children to do well- not just academically- but in their walk with Christ, it moves me. I hope I can love, guide and encourage my children in the same way someday! What a gift to work in a school with parents that are so committed to their kids, and so supportive of teachers.
Round two is tomorrow....we're going to try to sneak in an Indian buffet lunch. That would be grand. Wish I was in Canada so I could watch the Sweet Sixteen at a normal hour of the day this weekend...

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

We've Got Spirit, YES WE DO

Alrighty, I've tracked down a few pics from the "first pep rally ever"...

Now that's spirit!

Victory!! Love it!!

Rising up, back on the street...

My one big shot. It may have been my last...:)'s not's "CAIS"

Best backup dancers ever. Wow!

Oh, good times!!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Basketball. It's just so, so good.

Oh my, what a marvelous time of the year! We've just wrapped up the best weekend on the year's calendar- the first and second rounds of the NCAA tournament. Today there were finally some sweet upsets, in typical Madness style. There's nothing like it- the squeaky shoes on the hardwood, the pep bands, the CBS jingle, the all or nothing passionate play all tournament long. I feel like I said this last year. And probably the year before that. Ha! It's clearly the sporting event of the year!
I also just found a treasure chest of dunks online. This is crazy stuff that will have your jaw hanging, guaranteed. The top ten dunks by the greats- MJ (clearly....personal favorite has got to be the one where he burns Starks and then dunks over Ewing and some other guy. Ridiculous!), the Human Highlight Reel, Kobe, Dr. J, and Vince. Now that guy can dunk! Go and be inspired!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Teachers Sick at Sea

Today a gang of teachers acted as pirates and rented a junk boat for a trip over the rocky waters of the South China Sea. It had potential to be a marvelous event. However, the weather report today featured a "Monsoon Signal". Nevertheless, we braved the sea and wind, and loaded up on motion sickness drugs. Mine lasted half hour, the other hour and a half I dreamed of glorious, glorious land, while trying to steady myself in the boat. It wasn't really that bad because I didn't even throw up, but it was enough to remind me that I'm naturally and happily a land dweller.
We enjoyed lunch at a fishing village on Lamma Island and the return journey was shorter and actually a lot of fun, featuring fun photo taking and singing. Singing always does the trick, right Mom?! Here a few pics from the day on the boat!

Our Pirate Ship

Lamma Island- Fishing Village

Friends- Jamie and Shannon

Friends- Lynn and Mary

Friend, Tennis and Squash Partner- Bob

Friday, March 16, 2007

Slime Day!

A crazy but memorable Friday afternoon in my classroom. Slime- a fun example of a polymer. What a glorious MESS!!

A Day of Rest?

A friend in Hong Kong has been gently encouraging me, mostly by example, to think more carefully about the Sabbath. I think it's a good idea.

When I was little, I didn't at all like the idea of Sunday being a special kind of day. This meant that I had to miss my hockey or baseball games, and that felt like a pretty big sacrifice. I clearly remember missing out on a significant ball game, telling my coaches "I had to go to church", and them telling me to pray for victory while I was there! So I sat and listened at church, all the while daydreaming of diving for groundballs. Later on, I made my own choices and usually ended up going to my games. In high school, university and now as a teacher, my strong tendency toward procrastination usually finds me up late on a Sunday night, pounding the keys for an assignment due the next day, or tying up odds and ends for a lesson the next day. This has been the routine for many years now.

I haven't even really put much thought into setting apart a day for God. How about you? What are your thoughts on observing the Sabbath? I'd love to hear from some of you on how you approach this.

I started to do some reading on it, and I found a sermon by John Piper to be a good starting point. Here are some of the highlights:
-The Sabbath is a reminder that blessing comes from God's grace, not my labor. (HEY! That really hits home for me. I need this reminder, big time...we cannot sustain, or sanctify ourselves on our own)
-We often understand the Sabbath as a burden, when it is a gift. God promises that He will meet all of our needs in 6 days.
-The purpose is for us to find delight in the Lord.
-Our hearts are set more on the pleasures we find in the world than on enjoying God and being in His presence.

Anyway, what do you think? How does this play out practically in your life? Relevant?

Sunday, March 11, 2007

You know it's humid when...

The dehumidifier collects 10 litres of water in a day! No wonder I had mold issues!!!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Buzzing Away (Thankfully)

It's been an unusual month for me. I've updated a couple of times on the strange symptoms I've been having over the past while. The latest is a diagnosis from a neurologist I saw this week. He believes that I have something called "guillain barre" syndrome. If you are like me, then you've never heard of this before, so you could always find out more here. It's a unique syndrome- affecting about 1 of every 100,000 people. Basically, I most likely picked up some kind of infection when I was sick in India or Nepal, and this kind of thing can show up a little later on. In the most extreme case, people are paralyzed and put on a respirator. Mine is a very mild case- resulting in the numbness and tingling I've been experiencing for about a month now.
I'm so thankful that it does not appear to be something serious, and I can expect that the buzzing effect will pass within another 3 or 4 weeks. It has been a new experience for me, and I can say that it definitely has sharpened my priorities in life, reminded me of life's fragility and breathed a very fresh wave of gratitude for good health. I feel like a heavy weight of fear has been lifted. There were so many people praying for me, and I am so thankful for the interceding of many of you. I wish that I could claim I worried less and trusted more through this. I guess it was and is a growing experience for me.
I am still buzzing, but generally I'm feeling a lot better. Plus, the second round of report cards is now in the bag! Woooo! That's a great feeling. In other news, I'm currently combatting the crazy humidity of HK. The only time I have experienced mold in dry old SK was when I'd hide Tupperware containers in my high school locker for months...yes, Mom, that's what happened to all of your missing containers. Anyway, a friend is giving me a dehumidifier and I'm disinfecting my house. Goooood times!
Well, I'm going to meet up with my bball team for our semi-final match this afternoon. It's a tough matchup, but hey, upsets are magical in March! Ohhhhh the MADNESS is coming very soon!!!!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Tunes of the Week

Mat Kearney. Nothing Left to Lose. Refreshing and enjoyable blend of folk rock, hip hop (yes!) and pop. Easy to listen to. Excellent music for backdrop to mark Grade 5 essays. Two thumbs up.

Patty Griffin. Children Running Through hit the Canadian ITunes Store sometime last week. I haven't listened to it enough yet, but "The MLK Song" is powerful and "No Bad News" has been a fast favorite. For your fill of folk, Patty is the way to go!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Dim Sum With The Guy Who Won Gold

Today I had the chance to eat lunch with Henry Wanyoike, from Kenya. I didn't know much about this man until today, but he has an amazing story. You can find it here. Henry woke up twelve years ago in darkness, having lost his sight. He won Gold at the Sydney Paralympics, and today he placed 3rd in Hong Kong's half-marathon. He runs marathons all over the world, with the help of his guide- a childhood friend named Joseph. They are running for the 17 million people with cataracts, 85 percent of whom could be healed with a simple operation. The organization is called Seeing is Believing. Right now he's aiming for gold in Beijing! I'll be watching for him! I was glad to have the chance to share some Chinese food with one, actually two, very inspiring people!
Here's his video:

Friday, March 02, 2007

Why Not?! (Sorry, that's for Sherri)

Earlier this week I kicked Sherri out of my flat and sent her to the REAL CHINA. Yes, enough of this wannabe's time she enjoyed the real deal. She went to Yangshuo, a favorite spot of King and Queen China, Jay and Shannon, and myself as well.
I was sad to see her go! I am certain that her being with me in HK during that specific time in my life was something divinely appointed! Definitely some pretty great memories made. Sherri has a rare and wonderful gift of bringing a kind of contagious joy to anyone she comes into contact with. Oh, she's a funny girl- you'd be blessed to meet her!
Anyway, I made up a little comic with pics from her time here, and I've added some new pics to my flickr site should you want to see more!

I'm glad it is Friday night! I made it through the week back at school but I'm still not doing so hot healthwise. Waiting for this to pass...I have been to doctors and I've seen a specialist. They just don't have answers!
Well, time to head for bed. Tomorrow I'm going to try some tennis and hopefully get lots of marking done (knowing me, this may not happen until I have a couple less days before marks are due).
Good night, friends!