harmony with Language

We’ve been in language school for almost six months now. Here’s a video to give you just a taste of how we’re progressing. 🙂 Mark introduces his song for our language school’s Culture Expo, he sings the first verse/chorus in his native Cantonese, then singes the rest in Mandarin. He’s learning so fast! Of course, my lessons are a bit slower since I am learning it all from scratch, reading/writing/speaking. I will post more on that later, lol. Enjoy the video!

-JK

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Marriage Isn’t For You

Mark & I are coming up on our 11th wedding anniversary. We had plans for a fun weekend getaway to Malaysia last yr for our 10th. It didn’t work out, won’t happen this yr either… but that doesn’t matter because we know the truth about marriage. It’s not about getaways, it’s about being in the moment & being ‘in it together’ – whatever ‘it’ may be from day to day. It’s about new adventures – as a family, it’s about raising children that love God, it’s about serving the poor & helpless & caring for widows & orphans together, it’s about TEAM, it’s about love… And God IS love… so marriage is really about God! — Mark & I are praying that God will encourage you, strengthen your marriage & show you the truth today!  -JK

Seth Smith also discovered the truth about marriage. Having done so, he’s decided that marriage isn’t for him…

Seth Adam Smith

Having been married only a year and a half, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that marriage isn’t for me.

Now before you start making assumptions, keep reading.

I met my wife in high school when we were 15 years old. We were friends for ten years until…until we decided no longer wanted to be just friends. 🙂 I strongly recommend that best friends fall in love. Good times will be had by all.

Nevertheless, falling in love with my best friend did not prevent me from having certain fears and anxieties about getting married. The nearer Kim and I approached the decision to marry, the more I was filled with a paralyzing fear. Was I ready? Was I making the right choice? Was Kim the right person to marry? Would she make me happy?

Then, one fateful night, I shared these thoughts and concerns with my dad.

Perhaps each…

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reaching, touching, Loving {1×1}

Mr. and Mrs. Au (sounds like “ow”) live with their 4 children in a room that is less than 40 sq.ft. Mr. Au works 6- 12 hours day, 6 days a week at the vegetable outlet nearby to earn about $1100 USD a month. That’s what keeps the Au family off the streets, this is how many families in Hong Kong survive. Their rent and utilities often take about 50% of their monthly income. On top of that, Mr. Au has the burden & duty of supporting his parents financially in rural mainland China. We met Mr. & Mrs. Au last November, nine years after they moved to HK. Some of our elderly friends from an older sub-divided flat had moved into the flat where the Au’s live. It was during our weekly visit with these friends, that we met the Au’s & others living there.

Mark & his volunteers took the Au Family to dinner one night last year for their weekly visit.

Mark & his volunteers took the Au Family to dinner one night last year for their weekly visit.

The whole unit is about 700 sqft, divided into 11 cubicles with plywood walls & doors. Each unit fits 1 or 2 bunk beds & a mini-fridge, with about 3 feet of floor space left over. The bathroom, kitchen & laundry ‘rooms’ are all ‘common area’ shared by all 11 units. The Au family is blessed with one of the larger units. Still, they manage to squeeze 3 small children, a teenage boy, mom & dad all into their 30 sqft cubicle, which is almost twice the size of their neighbor’s. They pay a pretty penny for the space too. The average sub-divided unit costs about $1800 HKD/m ($230 USD), which comes to approx. $6.60USD per square feet. To put that in perspective, the rent for our home in HK (about 680 sqft) is only $2.50USD per square foot… Our house in California is currently rented for less than $1 USD per square foot…

1x1 logo copywrightGetting to know new families in need is a regular part of life for us. It’s wonderful to bring groceries & deliver hot meals, but to really know someone & show them you care about them is to really make an impact & offer hope that brings new life! We want to impact our world, one family, one person, one SOUL at a time. {1×1} We have lived in HK for over a year, but we are only now beginning to see tiny, life changing moments that come from years of prayer & faithfully chasing after the dreams placed in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. Ours is not a swift journey nor a race for sprinters, it is a long & meticulous trek… meant to be run with endurance, patience & diligence. Paying attention to details & knowing people by name, caring for the individuals – which one day will make all the difference in the world, even if only to that one special person that God chose YOU to reach, touch or love for Him! We may not be able to save them all, but as “The Star Thrower” reminds us: “It made a difference to THAT ONE!

This family was fairly friendly from the start & the little ones looked forward to the little treats Mark brings on his weekly visits. In conversation with Mr. Au, Mark learned that Mrs. Au had struggled with depression when they lived in China. Part of her husband’s decision to move his family to HK was her health. He needed to go where he could earn enough money for his wife to be at home with the kids, where she wanted to be most of all. Instead of needing for both parents to work, only to never have enough to live on in China. It was clear to Mark, this man wanted the very best for his family & he loved his wife & children very much… So now we pray together for the Au’s often, the Lord puts them on our hearts 3-4 times a week. I enjoy hearing the updates after each of Mark’s visits, since I have only been out to their house once so far.

A couple months after meeting them, Mark invited Mr. & Mrs. Au to bring the whole family to a field trip & banquet day that he had organized through our work. They all came to the Pun Choy event in Jan., except for Mrs. Au who was not feeling well that day. I was excited to see them again & as we went through the different tours, I watched the kids laughing & playing with their dad. Over 300 people that we serve attended the outing, Mark & Kum Gee (“Gum Gee”), his co-worker,  had over 40 volunteers to help keep things in order. (The boys & I were there trying to help, but we certainly need to work on our Cantonese before the next time!) We toured a bakery that specializes in a Chinese specialty called “Wife Cake”. Then we took buses to an older area of HK where we had a walking tour of a “Heritage Village”. It was very neat to see a bit of Hong Kong’s colonial days through the old buildings that connect to each other with tiny, intertwined alleys.

Mr. Au & family eating at the Pun Choy with volunteers & other guests.

Mr. Au & family eating at the Pun Choy with volunteers & other guests.

Last stop for the day was the main event, the Pun Choy Dinner. Basically, it’s a huge pot of enormous amounts of food all cooking together over a small table top burner. While everyone ate, we had our team entertaining & teaching them. There were games & raffles, worship songs & prayer, & then a testimony of God’s faithfulness in the life of someone who had been part of our program in the past… This all ended with a time of fellowship while finishing the meal. Then came the opportunity for anyone that wanted to pray, for anything at all. Mr. Au prayed for his family & he prayed for Christ to change him & his life. He was instantly adopted into the family of God! What a wonderful day for the Au family!!!

Mr. Au prayed over his son & made a decision to follow Christ!

Mr. Au prayed over his son & made a decision to follow Christ while a volunteer prayed for his daughter.

When we go out in the world, we hope to make a difference. When we go home to our families, we hope to make a difference. The difference Mr. Au’s decision is making for his family is eternal. We are excited to walk with him through this time of change & growth. He will need support & encouragement, just like you & I do. This story is not the first of it’s kind, but it is one that touches my heart to the core. So many husbands & fathers make tough choices to help their families, thinking they are doing all they can. Striving in their own strength to get things right & make ends meet, wanting to teach their children right from wrong… Only to find out that it wasn’t enough. It’s never enough without Jesus. But now Mr. Au is getting the help, the peace, grace & power he’s been needing all these years. We’re so happy & excited for him, we’re blessed to be walking this journey with him! You might not think knowing this family is a big deal, but them knowing the Savior IS! When you & I make the time to love others, He makes ALL the difference! And He usually does it ONE BY ONE{1×1}

Recently we brought a Chinese children’s bible to the Au kids. On a later visit, the 5 year old told Mark that they had been reading it together (the 3 younger kids), & sometimes Mom was reading it too. What a sweet family they are! Will you join us in praying for the Au family? We just KNOW that God is doing a miraculous work in our midst, what a great day to be alive, a day when lives are changed & Christ is glorified!

-JK

growth for Christmas {a transformed life}

Pain. Fear. Ambulance. Patience. Humility. Hospital. Heroes. Knight. Boredom. Frustration. Disappointment. Peace. Rest. Swelling. Bruising. Quiet. Study. Worship. Lonely. Immobility. Crutches. R.I.C.E. Delegate. Acceptance. Teamwork. Dependance. Creativity. Laughter. Innovation. Decorating. Loud. Messy. Love. Christmas. Courage. Growth. Trust. Shopping. Silly. Antics. Careful. Rehabilitation. Exhausted. Sore. Word. Spirit. God. Husband. Wife. Kids. Family.

HK ambulanceWhat a week. These words are only a few of the moments & feelings we have come through. Last Wed. as we prepared for an afternoon shopping trip & then meeting Dad for a nice dinner out… I fell & sprained my ankle! It was horrible because I couldn’t stand on it & my three boys were at a loss for how to help me… I hated that moment, feeling like I had let them down, scared them & put them in such a hard position. I was afraid it was broken too. Don’t really remember the last time I did anything that hurt that much, other than childbirth & kidney stones I guess. Dr’s called it a ‘severe ankle sprain’ (no break), Mark says it’s like a Grade 2 ‘high ankle sprain’ which is worse than the norm I guess… Turns out you’re NOT supposed to walk on your foot (or your ankle) when it’s fallen asleep! Go figure!

busted ankleNeedless to say, I’ve been laid up on the couch for the last week! It’s been a time of major stretching & growth for our whole family. I’m sure it’s not over yet – since I have one more week of no walking (except with crutches) & likely another 3-6wks of healing to go after I start putting weight on it. In all, I’m proud of my family – we’ve started to really pull together & work as a team. Maybe we’re learning more about what it takes to be a strong family, or maybe everyone else is just finally realizing all that Mom does around here! Ha ha! Now that I can’t get up & just do stuff, they have to HELP ME in addition to all of their responsibilities… what’s more is they have to do all the things I would normally do around here – or be frustrated when it isn’t done! Everyone has to help pick up the slack, but isn’t that the point of a team?? Isn’t that the point of the Body of Christ?? Aren’t we all part of both, this family Kwong & the family of God?! Taking time to talk about it with the kids, so they will actually GET the lesson while they live it, that seems important to me… & yet so hard to do! Seems crazy, since I have no where to go, stuck on the couch! But there is much to do while I sit here, besides icing my ankle. {grin} Like catching up on correcting/grading homework that has been on my desk for weeks, emails & scheduling for the US Team that will be here right after Christmas & helping kids with math! (oh yay, how fun! LOL)

mom on crutchesAs for the personal lessons God has brought for me, I’m praying & working through each of them. From patience & humility to showing my gratefulness & giving grace to others… & allowing my feelings of disappointment over missing out on things/activities that I just can’t go to right now – but then choosing to rest in the Spirit & enjoy the extra time I have to be in the Father’s presence rather than dwell on what was missed! The biggest lesson so far, the one I haven’t ever had many chances to work on, was trusting my 4 guys with taking care of things that are normally totally up to me. Specifically, shopping for Christmas decorations! It took a lot of soul searching to really be ready to “LET GO” of the control on this one, but the only other choice was to not have it done until I can walk well enough to go out on the train again (maybe 3 weeks). Well, we’d already be past Christmas by then, & if not – everything would be sold out anyway, like it was last year when we arrived in Hong Kong, just 9 days before Christmas! This is my favorite time of year, I love to focus on Jesus & the Father’s gift, & family shopping & decorating time is all part of setting the tone… We didn’t have room to bring many decorations with us, & last year we arrived pretty low on funds & too late for buying things – so this was the time I’d waited all year for – to go out & stock up on great decorating treasures (& great deals on prices too!)… Waiting on Mom to heal first was simply NOT an option this week!

door wreathSo… I sent them off with my list & a prayer. Then I called my Gramma & told her how “My plan is to be prepared & at the very least, to say ‘Thank You!’ & NOT CRY no matter what they bring home!!” — But I was worried for nothing! My amazing Husband, my hero, actually called & skyped with me from the store so that I could still help decide on things!!! I was nervous when it sounded like the kids were fighting, but later I found out he got them all Root Beer (very hard to find in Hong Kong) & they were angels the rest of the day! When they came home, the treasures found were just right, they all did a GREAT job!

decorating the treeNow here I am, delegating cleaning, cooking & laundry jobs, as well as explaining where all the decorations should go… It’s beginning to look a ‘little’ like Christmas in here! We’re gearing up for our Home Group Christmas party this Friday. It will be a big TEAM Kwong effort to get the house looking great while Mom is couch-bound. But I’m confident that we can do it! between the shopping adventure & our home-made decor (thanks to Pinterest ideas!), we’ve gotten a lot done already! I can’t wait to be up & running again, but I’m so grateful that God is always growing us & teaching us through every little bump in the road! My family is stronger today & I am going to be able to release them into even more new adventures as we come up on our 1 year mark since moving here… Our next year in Hong Kong is already looking to be even brighter than the first! Can’t wait to see what lessons Jesus has for us in 2013, it’s gonna be epic I’m sure!!

laptop crafting  blue starflakecrafting

“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, [even] as by the Spirit of the Lord.” -2 Corinthians 3:18

“Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” -2 Corinthians 5:17

-JK