Sunday, November 22, 2009

Here we go.

Blogging has fallen off the edge of my to-do list.  I've thought about it and then felt tired- where do I even begin to try to catch up from the past three months?  It seems like it has been a whirlwind of feelings, activities, transitions, and stress.  And the longer I put it off, the more things piled up!  However, I'm not really wanting to give up on I might as well start somewhere...

A list feels more manageable than paragraphs, so here's a two-part list.  I will title it "The Fall of 2009".  Original and fresh, I know.

The Fall of 2009...The Wonderful
-I look out my kitchen window at the sky every morning at 7:45am and take a deep breath...I smile...I sometimes laugh.  Amazing, deep, vibrant blends of colors painted all over the canvas sky...I love Saskatchewan.  I praise God at least twice for this gift everyday, sunrise and sunset.  It blows me away and brings me to worship.
-Oh, the people!  Oh, the family!  Being with so many I love and have missed for the last few years...this is wonderful, indeed.
-New car: the Blue Zoom!
-God's sweet provision- sweet job, sweet house to live in! I really enjoy my school community.  Beautiful, beautiful school, and awesome colleagues.  It is a great place to work.  A talented, warm and fun group of teachers to work alongside.  And my house....ooooh, I love my house, and my roommate!  (Literally) huge blessing (not my roommate, the house!!).  I feel like I'm swimming in space much of the time- it takes a long time to get places!  After living in 600 square 2000? I don't even know how big this place is, but it's pretty awesome.  And Nicole, my roommate- she's like a sister, and a friend I've always thought would be fun to live with.  I'm so grateful for her!
-SPORTS!! I've had such a blast getting connected and reconnected in the sports community here.  I have met some fantastic new friends.  Tennis and football have been the highlight thus far.  I had a lot of fun playing in a tennis tournament in the summer and was able to get to know some of the ladies.  Now we are playing through the winter, too.  Fun!  I have also become slightly obsessed with touch football.  I really enjoyed going to Nationals in Toronto in October...great experience, and again, fun to make new friends.  Lately I have enjoyed trying floor hockey, playing volleyball again, and also rejoining my old university basketball friends in the ladies league here.  Another great addition has been a twice-a-week early morning "boot camp".  Usually early morning and Harmony do not work- but it has been great!  Really good way to start the day, just dreadfully painful waking up to get there!
-Three plane tickets.  The first took me to Toronto.  The second will take me to New York for New Year's with my sister (wooohooo!!).  The third will take me to Hong Kong in February!!! I'm so excited (and glad that I'm still able to travel)!

The Fall of 2009....The Challenging
-Transition- "in general".  Returning to a place that is home...but isn't home at the same time.   A place that is very old to me is actually new again- both a refreshing experience and sometimes a strange one.  Finding my way in a new school community- sometimes it makes me feel sad and I long for the place where I felt known and comfortable.  Settling into my own living space and feeling out the 'rhythm' of life here. 
-Saying goodbye to my Grandpa and walking through the journey of grief with my family...knowing more deeply the hope that is ours, in awe of the gift of his life and his impact on mine, missing him and aching for Grandma.
-Missing my friends and my church family in Hong Kong.  This was expected, but it is still hard.
-The workload and challenges of feeling like a first year teacher again.  Busyness.  New system, new grade, new kids, new community.  Report cards.

Enough for today.  At least the ball is rolling!  Next step might have to be changing my blog title!! Hmmm...a new blogging identity...any suggestions?!

Saturday, October 31, 2009


Last night a couple friends showed me these awesome videos on YouTube!  From time to time I get a good kick out of "The Office"...even though I was in Season 2 in Hong Kong!  Anyway, I love their wedding episode, which features some sweet dance moves up the aisle...moves that were actually inspired by this real wedding!  Love it!! FUN. Here's a link the wedding episode from The Office.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Looking back at the goodbyes...

I swept over a lot of really good times on my blog (guess I was too busy enjoying them, so no apologies there!)- there were some great memories made during my last days in Hong Kong. So before I dive into the routines of life at home on this blog (that needs a new name?!), tonight I feel like looking back on some of my favorite goodbye moments in HK...

-A group of awesome friends from school (maybe 20 or so) pulled an awesome surprise on the three SK girls leaving town. It was a blast...they blindfolded us, put lovely signs asking for goodbye hugs and escorted us around the city, even traveled across the harbor on the bus to a mystery dinner location. It was so much fun, and we definitely didn't see it coming!!
-On three different occasions I celebrated? leaving with my tennis friends! Such good memories- the first was a trip out for HOTPOT + watching Wimbledon, another was THAI + dessert buffet at my place, and the last was a huge SHANGHAINESE feast + tennis!! Food is a key element, you see! I will miss these special people- not just because they know all the best places to eat and always order seven hundred dishes, or because they are die-hard tennis fans- but mostly because they were so much fun, and I sensed such a genuine friendship with them.

-Even though our school year ended unexpectedly (and sadly), I loved the chances I had to visit some of my students and their families in their homes! What a treat! I had such a great class this year- we became quite close. I have a feeling I will miss them this year! Each visit was unique and fun. One friend/parent treated the three SK girls to dinner at the "revolving restaurant", which none of us had been to! She really went out of her way to be a blessing and encouragement to us as we left- and we'll all remember her kindness, I'm sure.

-I received an amazing gift from friends- one that surprised me and blessed my socks off!! Two of my best buds, Alison and Liz, worked their creative brilliance in creating a movie for me- SUCH a great keepsake of my years in HK. It's called "Hong Kong Will Miss You, Harmony"! It made me laugh a lot and cry a lot! I love it and I will treasure it for a long time.-On our last work day, we had our annual year-end farewell event. My dear friend and colleague, Marg, blessed with such kind and encouraging words (and prayers!). She is one in a million, this one! I miss you (and why didn't we get a picture on that last day?!)!

-On my last night in HK, I spent time with some of my good friends from Solomon's Porch (my home church). I'm already missing SP so much! I loved my community at SP, and it was neat to spend my last evening with that crew.

It seems...not recap the last month in this way. It was a sad time- but such a wonderful time because it was a constant, FUN celebration of friendships, really. Sometimes I felt (and still feel) like crying about the friends I've said goodbye to (for now). But more often, it's the joy-inspired kind of cry- because it's been so good, and I've been so blessed! I miss you, my friends- thinking of you tonight.

Here are a couple other pics from the last weeks- one of my lovely friend Mary, and one of my bball guys, Kenneth...and the other is our SP house church- "K-House!" I spent the year with this small group. As you can see in the picture, they knew me well by the end of our time...ha ha! The next one is my friend Jacqualine, and the last is my Sunday School class from SP!

Well, that gives some voice into the month of June, but I still haven't managed to write about Shyam and Joshua's time in Hong Kong, time in the Mae La refugee camp...or my great family reunion on the ranch...or my job news, which is developing! It might happen yet!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Kids at the border...

Interesting story about desperate kids looking for refuge in Canada here.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Gooood adventure!

Still writing from Luang Prabang- sweating buckets in an internet cafe.

The last two days were something else! What a great adventure we had on our trek to the village. Both Ashley and I started out feeling much less than 100%, and wondered if we should be going ahead with the weekend plan...6 hours trekking, 2 hours kayaking, 40 kilometers of biking. And a whole lot of Laos sunshine/sizzling heat! The tour group, Green Adventure Laos, suggested we shorten our trek to 3 hours so we decided to give it a go. We were joined by another Canadian teacher and our excellent guide, Sittha.

The trek up the mountain was awesome, but very very tiring by the time we were on the steep climb up, right under the sun. We waded through streams up to our knees, and the most memorable part was spending time with the farmers in the rice paddies. We waded in and helped out with a few bushels. It was one of the many moments I've had on this trip where a reality hit home...the life of a farmer in Asia. My feet slithered into the hot, hot muddy water and it felt unimaginable that this was their everyday life. Makes a very comfortable Canadian wonder (there would be more wondering on this day). On the way up, we also saw a young dad, mom and baby feasting? on rat. They love to eat rat in the village...sorry, I didn't have the chance. :)

After tackling the mountain (this felt like no small feat!) we were very pleased to arrive in our village. I had suspicions that it would be some fake village set up for tourists. Ha! This was definitely the real deal. It was such an interesting spot to hang out in for the day. The village was bustling with tons of kids, which made it an instant hit in my books...especially for taking pictures! Most of the little kids didn't wear clothes, and neither did the Grandmas. I had a National Geographic/am I dreaming? moment when a shirtless and saggy-boobed elderly woman came up to me and grabbed the flubber on my arms...measuring it like she had one of those fancy fat calipers. She laughed and laughed. She had those long ears because of her drooping, heavy earrings. Where the heck am I?! There was no electricity in the village. Most of the men cared for the children, strapped to their backs. The entire village was also an animal farm, and I had almost written an entire script for the next Disney movie- that was fun.

As mentioned in the previous post, Southeast Asia loves to describe things and places as "same, same...but different". While gawking at the different-ness of this village, I also smiled many times over at the same-ness of this village and life as I know it. Some examples? Little boys making farting noises with their arms stuck in their armpits. Kids using the international decision-making strategy: rock, paper, scissors. Crying babies up late into the night. Kids creating forts. Men making opium and smoking it and then offering it to the tourists...oh wait, maybe not so same-same!!!! (And NO, we didn't say yes to that offer, though apparently many other backpackers are eager to try it out)

We slept in something like a storage space you might see on a farm. It was fine, though we didn't sleep all that well (our place at the refugee camp was actually more comfortable). Between the crying baby next door, the roosters, and a heavy storm, it didn't make for a great night. Anyway, we woke up, ate some breakfast and started our day. Trekking down the mountain first- took about an hour and a half. I forgot to mention how BEAUTIFUL this place was! Green mountains spotted with trees, rice paddies, all resting in the clouds. We trekked down and then kayaked along the chocolatey river for another hour and a half. We ate some lunch, and then finished our adventure with a 40 kilometer bike ride back to town. HOOFTA! This was a great experience for me- I have never biked that far before, especially not in the plus 35 degree temperatures. It was a really good challenge and I will definitely sleep well tonight!!!

So, that was our adventure! It's time for bed, and then tomorrow is a traveling day- saying goodbye to Laos and hello to Cambodia!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Live from Laos...

Hello friends. It's been awhile since I've posted on my blog. The last six weeks has been a blur. June was a month of goodbyes- lots of fun memories with plenty of laughs, and then a definite share of sad, teary farewells. However- no time to catch up on June now! July is here and with it, a load of experiences to blog about...but no time (or motivation??) to write! I'd better get started...
I'm in Luang Prabang, Laos. I am on a two-week adventure with my friend Ashley. This is the second chapter of our trip- the first could take awhile to tell you about because we saw, heard, experienced and learned a lot. We spent four days experiencing life in the Mae La refugee camp, located near the border of Thai and Burma. It was fun, overwhelming, filled with opportunity and memory-filled, hands-on, courage-giving and like nothing I've experienced before. We made good friends and listened to many stories- many of which I hope to tell in one way or another. I took a lot of video while I was there, so at some point a video will be compiled and shared...with hopes of communicating the stories, struggles, and strength of our Burmese friends. That's all on Mae La for now...more to come (I'm in the midst of catching up on my journaling- to give you an idea- I'm on page 9 and I haven't even arrived at camp yet :).
Back to Laos!! I love it!! Here are some reasons why...
-It's soooo laidback. I think of Hong Kong and other cities I've traveled- Hanoi, Bangkok, Kolkata...and I laugh. As soon as we drove into the city, I felt someone turn down the volume of life. And that is a good thing!! If people are stressed in Laos, they sure hide it well..
-It's soooo cheap!!! Daily (or maybe twice daily) banana-pineapple shakes? 1 dollar. Fresh baguette sandwiches off the street? 1 dollar. Our quiet, clean and well-cared for guesthouse? 3 dollars each/night. Our two-way one-hour ride to the waterfall today? 3 dollars. Hour-long foot massage? 4 dollars. YES!
-It's beautiful! As they say in this part of the world, "same-same but different" from its neighbors. Gorgeous blue skies, plenty of palm trees, waterfalls, and green green green. Luang Prabang is spotted with temples and orange and yellow clad monks wandering the streets.
-It has very impressive initiatives towards sustainable tourism, better than any place I've seen yet. One particular group, sponsored by World Bank, has outlined and published many, many ways that tourists can be responsible as they enjoy the country. You can check it out here- it's called Stay Another Day...very well done!!
I guess that's enough for today! We are off to do a bit of shopping in the market and then it will be a time for a foot-massage (essential, right?!). Tomorrow we are going on a two-day trip which involves trekking, kayaking, biking and staying with a Laos homestay family. On Monday, I will fly to Cambodia for a final three days before heading back to HK for a last weekend before my one-way ticket to...CANADA!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

When things don't go as you expected...

The last week has been hard. A week ago, the HK Education Bureau decided to shut down all the primary schools due to a couple of local cases of swine flu. The decision came quickly and within an hour of hearing the news, our year in grade five (and my three years teaching in HK) came to a teary close. We ended up having about half hour to share the news with the kids, somehow get their stuff (from a year!) all packed up, and give lots of hugs and last goodbyes. It was a blur. Being in a room with 19 weeping eleven year olds (and 1 twenty-seven year old) is a sad place to be! There were some very special moments that I'll hang onto from that day. Such a hard way to finish what has been a great year, and difficult for the kids to find good closure in such a sudden ending. Of course, this week was supposed to be one big party- Medieval feast, bowling, pizza, and apparently a surprise farewell for the teacher. I had such a colorful class this year- and quite an attached bunch.

Today has also been especially difficult as I found out that it would not be possible to get together with the kids outside of school, for one final party and farewell. The kids had directed their energy (and they have a lot of it!!) this week towards planning this party and it was supposed to happen today, but couldn't happen due to the restrictions from the government. I am so sad to let down the kids again. I know they'll be okay- it will be fine in awhile- but it doesn't feel good right now.

The school closure has left me with an extra week of cleaning up and organizing time in my classroom. I am glad for the extra time, though it has felt strangely quiet in Room 402. Last Friday everything came down in the classroom, and that was hard, too. I've loved creating a 'learning home' for kids, and I loved my classroom. I was glad to take some time to give thanks for all the great kids, and all of the fun memories created, all that I saw and learned in my time as a teacher here. This week I've spent most of my time working on a project for my kids. I think they will love it.

So I'm in mending, feeling a little drained, but working on making the most of my next month (and only two weeks in HK). Each day is now scheduled with some kind of supper, coffee date or party. Thank you, google calendar! Life-saver! I recall my post a week or so ago- and I'm still in that place tonight- so grateful for this season of life. I hope I can communicate that gratitude well in the next two weeks- I have many people to thank and bless as I go!


In a couple weeks, my friend Ashley and I will be heading off for a finale tour of Southeast Asia. I'm going to see two countries that have been on the checklist for the past three years- Laos and Cambodia. I won't see even close to what I'd like to in these spots, but I'm excited for what I will see! However, before we get there, we will be taking an overnight bus from Bangkok to the Thai/Burma border. We've connected with the group Global Neighbors, and we're going to join them in doing some teaching at a high school at the Mae La refugee camp. I received the email below from Global Neighbours today. The place he refers to is exactly where we are going, and the Farm Manager mentioned is our contact for our time in the camp. Read on...

I just got off the phone with our Farm Manager in Mae Sot, Thailand. He is also the founder of Htee Moo Draw School which is located in the Mae La Refugee Camp. This is one of the schools Global Neighbors is helping. There has been a major military operation about 80 kms North of Mae La Camp. There are a reported 4000 refugees that have crossed over into Thailand for safety in the last several weeks. This is the largest exodus in the past decade. Fifty orphaned children showed up at Htee Moo Draw school yesterday, with no more than the clothes on their backs. Henry has arranged for rice to feed them, but he also needs two shelters, blankets, protein and vegetables as well as mosquito nets. We have not talked about permenant care givers at this point, however we will need someone to look after them as well. They are bunked in with the other children who are staying in the dorm. Henry said, "There are literally wall to wall children in the dorm".
If any of you would like to help, you can send a cheque to:
Global Neighbors Canada
101-46-12th St East
Prince Albert, Sask.
S6V 1B2

We now have an online donation site available as well, please click on the following link:

A tax deduction will be sent from Canada Helps for all online donations.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Friday, June 05, 2009

2 weeks of kids...3 weeks of work...6 weeks in Hong Kong

June has hit, and with it, the feeling of finishing and letting go of this chapter and this place. Today I officially cleared myself for take-off by paying my taxes and claiming my MPF (retirement savings). I was amazed that my tax was under 500 CDN for the past year! Hong Kong is great. :) I have no idea how they figured that out, but I'm not questioning it! I'm in the midst of arranging for another teacher to move into my flat over the summer, which is excellent because it means I can leave a lot of my stuff behind. It should simplify the move and I'm grateful for that.

In the past couple of weeks I have been hoping for a call from Regina Public but nothing has come up yet. The best chance at getting a full-time position has passed, so that was somewhat disappointing. I'm (mostly) okay with it, though. Regina is where I want to be, and I'm confident that a job will happen eventually. In the meantime, we've got some fertile ground for patience to grow. :) I may end up subbing for a time, which in some ways (in the short-term) is quite attractive. It would be nice to have a little more freedom with my time than usual and I can think of a number of things I might do with that time! I'm excited about moving back to Canada! It will be so good to be with my family again, and I'm also really looking forward to being in the Regina community. I've already got things lined up to join my football team for the second half of the season. Yeees! And, I'm hoping on getting in on a couple tennis tournaments, too. (I'm definitely excited about playing sports at home again! Woohoo!)

Last night I was reflecting again on God's flow of kindness in my life. It has been a very rich (though not equating easy) three years! Stepping out of one season and into the next, I want to commit to living in thankfulness. He is so good! I have been enjoying Hillsong United's new album, A Cross _ the Earth. The Desert Song has been a joy to have ringing through the ears...this simple bridge:

All of my life, in every season
You are still God
I have a reason to sing,
I have a reason to worship

A friend from Hillsong shared with me that one of the gals singing had lost her baby just days before. Brings new light and meaning into the song.

Well, it's that time...Roger time. Looking forward to watching this one on my Friday night at home! Good night from HK. By the way, if you have a car you would like to sell or give away (why not?!), or a lovely apartment to rent in Regina, let me know! These two things will be among the first on the list to take care of when I get home!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The getaway gals go to China...

I enjoyed my long weekend in Yangshuo, China with five of my good friends. We considered it as 'one last getaway'. (Yes, we're into the land of "lasts" these days!) I love Yangshuo. It is one of my favorite spots in China. It's only an hour flight from HK, so that made it an easy destination (the journey seemed almost too easy when I remembered my last trip to Yangshuo a few years ago- a 25 hour train journey!).

Anyway, it was a great time- beautiful scenery, good exercise, decent food, awesome accommodations, a fun chance to try out the Mandarin, good visits with friends. My favorite part about being in Yangshuo is going for bike rides into the countryside. This was a daily requirement, along with a daily dose of banana pancakes and a shake of some kind. Here are a few pictures from the weekend (the rest can be found here):

"West St."- Backpacker central.

Tammy, Ashley, Maureen, Mary, Wenny, and myself.


New friend.

Not bad, hey?

Sunday, May 17, 2009


The highlight of my day was attending the baptism for a student in my class. Philip was baptized along with his older brother and sister this afternoon, along with three other students from our school. What a special day for their family! They are wonderful people and live out their faith together. Here are a couple pictures; the last one is a bonus and it is my Ode to Watermelon. It's just so satisfying.

Philip and I

The Grade Five Crew!

The Hutchinson family and teachers (Alison, Mary and me)

I love you, watermelon.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

So that's what it feels like...

Lately I've been in a bad habit of napping from about 7:15-7:45pm so that I can feel 'rested' for tennis from 8-10pm. The other night I felt so tired but I really wanted to go to tennis. However, the thought struck me that maybe, maybe I should just go to bed. So I did. I went to bed at 8pm. I can't remember the last time I went to bed at 8pm, maybe twenty years ago?!

Talk about a payoff. I woke up at 6:30 and I finally understood the meaning of rested. I didn't actually need more sleep. What a strange phenomenon. And I felt good all day- almost like this is how I'm supposed to operate on a daily basis! I'm sure most of us have felt the same way, however, our lifestyles don't seem to agree with getting enough sleep. It makes a person wonder, though, doesn't it? Why do we drive ourselves into such tiredness when the alternative feels so much better? The rhythm of my life could sure use more rests!

My favorite commercial

Roger-Rafa final in Madrid...gooooo Roger!!!!! I believe!

Friday, May 08, 2009

I've had company!

I've had some special guests on the thirty-second floor in the past month! Looking back, the last month feels like such a blur, a busy and beautiful blur! I don't even think I blogged about Tara and Nicole's visit, though the week was very deserving of a blog!

They were a blast to have in HK- totally eager the minute they arrived! They proved themselves to be committed adventurers on their first day, when we decided to go hiking despite the ahem, monsoon icon on the weather website (but really, it said "a few scattered showers"!). The site was right on the 'scattered showers', at least for the first half hour of our hike! For the next three, it poured!!! We were absolutely soaked. It was hilarious, actually. We hiked through the crazy wind and rain, feeling very adventurous. We ran to catch a ferry to start the journey back and then ended up waiting for half hour along with 200 other Hong Kongers to catch a bus...then another bus...and a taxi. We finally made it home. They did all of this on day one! When it was back to school for me, they spent their days exploring the city (as well as one crazy spa day in Shenzhen, across the border in China)...and I always looked forward to the Daily Report from Tara afterschool. It usually lasted about fifteen minutes and was very entertaining. I wish I would have captured one of the Daily Reports on video...:) Anyway, I really enjoyed having them with me!! Not sure if I've ever laughed so much in a week...
the beginning of the hike- day one

bubble tea + foot massage = :)

in the kowloon city walled park

Then Mom, Dad, Autumn and Andrew spent last weekend with me. It was their fourth time stopping in Hong Kong! They are experts now! It has been so neat to create new memories with them each time. Each visit ended up being unique and fun in its own way. This time around was special because we spent a lot of time with the girls that came to India with me; they have become dear to our family. We went out for a local Chinese meal the first evening (their specialty was Peking Duck, and we ate a lot of other notable things, like eel and jellyfish), we went on a beautiful bike ride (though it was so crazy busy on the holiday weekend that you felt you were in the Tour De France, Hong Kong style), and enjoyed meals with other special friends in Hong Kong. Again, another weekend with great memories!

the bike riding crew (new territories, hong kong)

ahhhhh!! traffic galore!

andrew's favorite (and cheapest) and meal: wonton

out for starbucks together by the harbor

at church with pastor sam and his wife, lisa (special people, too!)

the peking duck meal

Saskatchewan Parade in Calgary

Yeeeeeahhh! I'm coming, I'm coming! (July 20)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Save Bumfs!

I'm writing from our "7 Day Inn" in Wuhan. We arrived from Shandong province earlier today. I flew to Beijing and met Jason, Shannon and Emmanuelle there. We took a very speedy and posh train to Yangzhou. On a number of occasions I have been a little thrown off by the newness of things in China- there has definitely been a make-over in some spots since the Olympics. The main reason for being in Shandong province was for our good friends' wedding. Carl and Cathy are both special friends from the year I spent living in Hubei. It was great to be there, and also to see many old friends again. So far I've had two massages. I've eaten eggs and tomatoes twice. And I've seen some high quality Chinglish. Like today in the bathroom, the toilet paper dispenser said "Save Bumfs". Think about that one...I've got nothing but laughs from it so far.

While Shandong was great, coming back to Hubei has a definite homey touch to it. This is the China I know best! As we walked down the street for supper, I was excited to see many of my favorite things: a good sports store, a stationery store where I can buy many funny Chinglish notebooks, a man who sells baked sweet potatoes, a dumpling shop, a bubble tea shop, a dvd and music store, many things to eat on a stick, and most importantly, a hair salon where I can get a cheap hairwash and head massage. :) Yes, I'm back at home in China! Love it. Tonight at supper I was quickly reminded of why I packed on the pounds in China...the food is so so good! I also love being back in Mandarin-mode. It's a lot easier for me to understand than Cantonese and my vocabulary has a little more stretch than my Cantonese, which is very limited. One thing that is notably different this time around is the addition of one really really cute kid! Emmanuelle draws plenty of attention...I've laughed many times thinking, "Wow, that person looks so excited to see me; isn't that special?! I wonder why they are so interested in me!" And then I remember who's tagging along behind- it's the super squishy beautiful blue-eyed baby girl!! Ha ha ha!

The best part is seeing our friends, though. That's always what you remember most about a place, so coming back brings back so many good memories. I'm looking forward to making more in the next three days!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

This week's project (31/31)

This little movie has been my project of the week. We will show it tomorrow at the school's dinner theatre. They are kindly taking an offering for the Bread of Life Academy and Bible College at the event.

India has been on my mind this week. Working on the movie, wearing my red salwar to school on Monday for 'cultural dress day', visiting with Steve after his week in Guwahati, thinking of Mom, Dad and kids often.

In line with the theme, tonight I was over to Richard and Vivian's for homemade Indian supper. We had smoking hot chicken biryani, daal, and shrimp with ocre. All very tasty! Vivian asked me, "So Harmony, do you plan to marry?" Uhhh.... They laughed and said, "Oh, it's quick and easy!!" Richard is thinking of starting a dating website called "Richard's Arranged Marriages: Quick and Easy!" Ha, ha, ha!! I always enjoy their perspective on dating and marriage and wonder at how it could be so quick and easy?! They are a great family and I enjoyed being in their home. Just wait til you see their kids!! Sooo cute! They took some pictures so when I get them I'll definitely post them on the blog.

That's it! 31/31! I dipped into April, but the March Blogging Challenge is officially complete! It's been fun. Thanks, Jill, for joining me! It was great to journey through the month with you!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Twitter Trouble (30/31)

Not sure if you're a Twitter-freak or not, but I thought this movie was a funny and accurate peek/commentary on the Twitter world. I use Twitter but update rarely, though I've enjoyed some of the chatter from my church community. Twitter, texting, facebook, blogging- it's the way of communication "these days". It's an issue that I think about often as a teacher! Anyway, check out the video and forgive the language in a couple parts!

Why I love Starbucks in HK... (29/31)

It's not because it tastes any more delightful. It's because my barista friends give me sweet deals!!!! It's the best! I'm sitting at Starbucks at the moment, happy to have found my long lost barista buddy, Ching Wa. He had switched stores and so I thought I'd lost him. But today our coffee friendship was revived when I found him at one of the biggest Starbucks in the city. He gabbed on and on in a mix of Cantonese and Mandarin (I think we were catching up on old times?), I complimented him on his cool new haircut, and then he gave me a half-price latte, a stamped up card (ten=free coffee, another plus to Starbucks here) and added on a Ferrero Rocher, just for kicks. Great guy! The other day, the competing love of my coffee life, "TZ", also went on a stamping spree on my card. Woohoo! Free coffee, fun people! :)

Monday, March 30, 2009

food, facebook, freedom, fasting. (28/31)

In January, I joined my church in a 21-day fast. I decided to try a "Daniel Fast"- eating only fruits, vegetables and whole grains. It was both a valuable and difficult experience for me (seems that often valuable and difficult like to stick together in life's lessons). Cutting out sugar was the most challenging aspect. I always need that sweet finish to every meal. It was good for me to go cold turkey on the sweet stuff. I realized that I didn't actually have to HAVE it- that chocolate ice-cream, that chocolate cake, that chocolate anything. :) I guess in that realization, I also learned that I had been a slave to those sugar fixes! Another thing that struck me during the fast was the amount of sugar and preservatives in so many things that we eat. I learned to read labels carefully, and felt so good eating real food all the time.

At that time, I also felt like I was wasting great amounts of time on facebook. Did I really want to look back on '09 and calculate that I spent more time reading people's updates than I did actually spending time with people...or playing my guitar...or working out...etc.? Letting go of facebook for a month was much easier than changing my eating habits. I didn't think about it too much, and that surprised me. But I did need to realize that I didn't HAVE to check facebook a number of times a day. Seems silly to say, but when you become enslaved to something, it feels like you do.

Though I did learn valuable lessons simply from the act of fasting, that wasn't the point. The point was to deepen my relationship with God and increase my dependency on Him. I often found myself so frustrated because I felt "stuck" on the surface level of the experience. I was fasting to spend more time with God, but I would still find numerous other things to do. I also found it so easy to get caught up in legalism over what I could and couldn't eat. A good friend pointed out to me, "Holiness isn't found in ritual". It's so true. Fasting alone doesn't guarantee intimacy in your relationship with God. Our pastor often reminded us, "Fasting without prayer = a diet". This is also true. The thing that I loved was sharing the experience with my church family. There such a deep spiritual desire clearly alive in the services. It was such an encouragement to know that everyone was in it together- a great way to experience the community of the church.

So I'm a work in progress. I'm grateful for what I learned, and I will try it again sometime. I know that I can experience so much more in fasting...but it needs to be combined with a much greater effort devoted to prayer.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

A great day. (27/31)

I've had an excellent Saturday. It started with a morning at home, watching a great game between Kansas and Michigan St. online, and then working with IMovie '09 for awhile. Then I left for the Rugby Sevens, over on the island. It took me a lot longer to walk there after my bus ride than I had anticipated, but it was turned out well because I met a lovely British couple, Sarah and Grant. We chatted all the way up the hill to Hong Kong Stadium.

I really enjoyed the Sevens! It's an awesome sporting event! Crazy, crazy fans, and a great tournament structure. Continuous games all day long at 20 minute intervals. I watched about 15 different teams play during the afternoon, I think. Some of them were huge blowouts. The powerhouse teams like England and New Zealand were so good. It's a fast game and fun to watch. Rugby players make football players (as well as most other athletes!) look like pansies. Especially in the Sevens game, they have such an impressive combination of power and speed. I was surprised and impressed with the sportsmanship evident in the game. I didn't see the after the whistle clashes you see in football, nor the dives you see in soccer. I liked that. It was fun to watch them break out for long runs. I watched Canada beat Chinese Taipei, and after that Hong Kong pulled out a big win against Tonga. That was a great match.

The fans in the infamous "South Stand" were nuts. I overheard one person trying to find a friend on the phone..."So, you're next to the Incredible Hulks and the bumblebees? Are the men in the orange tights closeby?!" Some of my favorite get-ups: the Smurfs, the Teletubbies, the Roman soldiers, the bananas and the Dan Marinos. I wished that I would have taken my Nikon with me; there were plenty of fun photo opportunities. I think the fans in the South Stand alone were likely responsible for drinking enough to fill the Hong Kong harbour with you can imagine the environment on that side of the stadium!

After the Sevens, I met up with new friends at an Indian/Nepalese restaurant. I had a great time getting to know Medha and Kala. Dad has become friends with Medha's family in Guwahati, so he connected Medha and I. And the food was so, so good!

Overall, a great day!

I didn't know how to get to the Stadium, so I assumed this guy was headed in the right direction...

Hong Kong Stadium

The "South Stand"

These people were pretty excited to have their picture taken.
They're only one hour away!

Delicious meal with new friends, Kala and Medha