Regarding Transitions…

“Before you go, will you teach us… ?”

Two years ago, this time seemed very far off and possibly beyond our reach. How did we manage to journey long enough down this road of language learning to be ready to leave our language school, our first launching pad? Did we really learn all the things? Can we truly say we speak Mandarin? Can anyone ever fully speak a second language though? It seems to be a never ending task of tweaking and perfecting. Absurdly, my teachers are confident that I have reached the point of being sent off on my own to continue the learning, out in the world, haha! (Mark, being a native Cantonese speaker, graduated over a year ago and has been patiently waiting for me to hurry up. *smile*) So in just six weeks we will be waiting for my final exam results and packing up the apartment – preparing to start a new chapter,  in a new city and province, in Southern China. The place we have told you about, you’ve shared our hopes and dreams and joined with us in our vision for helping people while learning about them and their culture. Sanya, the beautiful and tropical place that we’ve longed to plant our roots in, where we hope to live for many years to come, with a new and one day thriving business that brings light and love to all who enter!

But in order to get there, we must first leave here. Xi’an has been a place of growth for our family. It has held many treasured memories of firsts and friends that became family. This giant city (twice the size of Sitka, AK, the largest city in the USA) has been a place of learning, both language and culture, as well as some harder life and spiritual lessons. And it’s also been a difficult place, so very overwhelmingly so at times that we could hardly catch our breath. The kind of place that forces you to hold tight to those that will still love you when the fires go out and the flood waters fade. We have learned to be brave and strong and to love our family fiercely. Thankfully, we have also learned to be gentle and vulnerable and to be more lovable when others come alongside us… In the midst of these reflections, my thoughts are interrupted by the pressing needs. Packing, organizing, purging, cleaning, studying, grading, doctors (oh so many doctors this year!), translating doctor reports, newsletters, work reports, charging the scooter, buying groceries, cooking, bathing, etc, etc. 🙂 How does one simply pack up their whole life and family and start fresh in a new place, in a foreign country… all over again?!

This is our ‘normal life’ friends. Although we hope this is our last BIG move for a long while, we have grown accustomed to it over the last eight years. Eight years of constant transition. What I know for sure about it is, we must leave well in order to start over well. Our race isn’t over, but our time in this place soon will be. So how do we manage that time? It starts with preparing our hearts and our spirits to say a lot of “See you later”s to dear friends, neighbors, classmates, and teachers that have become family. This can take a lot of prayer and it can hit you by surprise when the ones you least want to leave start to, as great friends will, become excited for you. They ask you questions and talk about a time when you will be practically on the other side of the country and doing new things. They want to hear all the plans – and all you can think is “But then I won’t see you every single morning. Maybe not for many months… or even years! I will miss you dear one!”

That’s about how my week was going, rather by the book so to speak. Then came the new line of questions I had never prepared for. ~~ “Before you go, will you teach us more about raising kind and helpful kids?” “We want you both to help us with pre-marital counseling while you’re still here, do you have time?” “Maybe you can write a book or come back sometimes to teach *Word & *Truth classes?” “I can gather some friends, I think it’s very important that you give us a marriage seminar. How about after the holiday – but before you move?!” ~~ You see, most of our language teachers like to ask us questions during class. Things they really want to know, but also to get us to answer in Mandarin using new vocab and grammar. We never expected that they would miss those talks or that those conversations were much more than curiosity about the foreigners’ ways. Yet, over the months of daily classes, some of our teachers have really poured out their hearts and in turn we have shared ours freely. Not only will we miss those precious moments with these very dear ones… but we desire to grant every single request we possibly can before we make this big transition from the big city (Xi’an), to Sanya (Which is SMALL by Chinese standards, but still about the size of Jacksonville, FL (the 5th largest city in the USA by landmass).

And how to finish well? We are choosing to be purposeful and loving in how we prepare ourselves, our kids (their transition stuff is a whole other post full!), and our dearest friends for our departure. Between the travel, phone calls, emails… amid rental agreements, class time, grading papers and doctors… we have scheduled time out of packing and studying for special lunch visits, game nights, play-dates and even a friend’s wedding. We have plans to take our kids on one last adventure trip with friends during the upcoming school break (although not together – half of us are going north and the other half south). And yes, we will teach a marriage seminar, we will counsel other friends in preparation for their wedding (which we hope to come back to attend next year!), and we will take time to pray and fellowship with many more beloved ones that have become our “China family” these last two years!

Maybe after the move I will think about writing that book. Let’s start with just getting back to writing here on this blog once a week. Or even once a year, that would be good! Guess I don’t have to tell you what being a full time language student and homeschool mom living in China has done to my “free time” or rather, my “writing time”. *grin*

 

-JK

 

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redeeming our Victory lap… {be transformed}

Today started out like any other Friday… I had stayed up too late working on adoption grants & FB, so I slept in while Mark cooked me bacon/eggs/hash for breakfast. Tryston took the train to piano lessons. The other boys played & messed around instead of school because mom was asleep, until Daddy cracked the whip & they got to work. Once I was sipping coffee around 9, Dad left to run errands (Friday is his study/work at home day, so he also runs errands that must be done during work hrs-VERY helpful!) & we all got started on some projects…

Somewhere around 11, Mark & I both had the same idea for a fun family outing everyone had been trying to fit into our busy schedule. This was no small miracle, since we weren’t together or even on the phone/texting each other when this happened… As soon as he got home, I asked if he had seen my text about my idea. “He said no, but can we talk in the other room?” LOL Short story is, we agreed it was the perfect day & weather for a day at the public pool! YAY for taking the afternoon off from school!!

And THAT’S when it happened. Out of nowhere, the house seemed to be in a fog. Kids started bickering, parents were nit-picking & the teenager was huffing around… What is this all about? We were having a great morning & planning a fun afternoon??!! What the heck?

So.Not.Cool.

This was going nowhere fast friends, I was about fit to be tied. With everything we’ve been working on lately for work & the adoption, we have had precious little time as a family to go have fun & relax. How can we throw it all away? People were already suggesting that we just stay home… 😦 I was about to cry…

Instead, I made a DECISION. A choice. We are NOT going down without a fight. Fear Not little family! This is NOT how this battle ends. The devil can go play around with someone else’s family because we’re not defeated today! — So I told my family all that. I reminded them who we are, Children of God. I acknowledged that we have plenty of ‘issues’ that need to be addressed from time to time. (Every family does, if they’re honest!) I told them how we have a CHOICE to get into all of it today, right now, when we KNOW we are planning to leave for a much needed family day… knowing also that the ‘discussions’ may ruin our plans altogether… Or we can CHOOSE to set an appointed time to calmly/rationally address these little dust bunnies that get swept under our rug now & then… when we are rested & can come prepared with rational & well thought out opinions, rather than feeling defensive & angry at not being heard ‘right this second’… For everything has its rightful time & place. But THIS was neither the time OR the place. Not today, not on my family’s ‘family time’!

Of course, I’d like to say we all held hands, prayed & sang ‘Jesus loves me’ at that exact moment. But that would just be a silly lie & you wouldn’t buy it anyway… right? Well not if you know us very well! Ha ha. What we DID do is take a deep breath, go to separate rooms (admittedly, the hardest thing to do in a 680sqft flat with 5 people!), & cool down until lunch was ready… The rest is history. We had a perfectly lovely day at the pool & water slide playground! We had a delicious dinner at a little noodle shop, bought some groceries & topped it off with some soft serve from McDs & a short tv show before bed… Successful fun family day! – Praise the Lord for His grace – our victory lap for today was indeed redeemed!

Moral: NEVER let the enemy steal your joy! Protect your family! PRAY! Mark & I pray constantly pray for our family, our kids & our marriage. The Holy Spirit lives in our home & I’m certain HE is the reason I had the clarity to grab ahold of our quickly spiraling day this time! Be ready to kick the devil out of your house friends! Be ready in & out of season! KNOW that you are God’s children, He is WITH you always. But because of that, the enemy of your soul is out to attack everything he can to derail you from God’s calling & plans for your life! It’s no surprise to us that we’ve had more & more moments where we’ve identified enemy attacks like today’s on our family since starting our adoption of AnnaBelleYou can be sure, if you are following God’s will for your life, it’s not a matter of OF the devil will attack your life/work/ministry/family/health/finances… but a matter of WHEN! – Don’t LET him beat you! He only wins when we stand down… but why should you? With God on your side, who can be against you? The VICTORY is won friends – CLAIM IT IN JESUS’ NAME!

“But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.” -1 John 4:4

“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” -Joshua 24:15

As always, feel free to leave a comment about your experiences or how this peel into our world may have helped you… But please also email me if you have any questions or if you would like prayer for your family!

-JK

Mr. Cheng just after "Joining the Family", with Mark & volunteers: Pia, Josh (brother-in-law) & Andrew.

three men & a big God {1×1}

Meet Mr. Chan, Mr. Au & Mr. Cheng… 3 men who followed different paths to find themselves in the same unwanted circumstances. Each has their own struggles, their own journey & their own heartache. We met them separately over the past 16months of visiting the cage homes & sub-divided homes of Hong Kong. We’ve talked here before about the way folks live in these small & dark units… today we want to share the personal side of the story by opening just a small window into the lives of these three friends of ours. We hope, once you know their story, that you’ll pray for them & their families as they continue on. We hope you’ll pray for us too, as we strive to mentor & encourage them and the many others that are so much like them…

Mr. Chan – Almost too late {1×1 – 2012}

Mr Chan2The good book tells us The Father knows the number of hairs we have because he cares for us, He even knows the number of our days on earth…  Well, let me share a story with you.  Mr. Chan is 78yrs old and he has been living in a sub-divided unit of 30sqft for over 20yrs.  He lives off his $500/m welfare check from the Hong Kong government; more than ½ of it goes directly to the landlord every month.  I started visiting Mr. Chan last March, along with 6 other seniors that live in the same 11 unit flat.  In September 2012 I invited him to join OUR Family, and he said “Yes”.  In October he had to move due to the landlord remodeling the flat.  Then, right before Chinese New Year in early February, his new landlord started to look for him.  Mr. Chan had gone into the hospital in late January, and had not been heard from since. After calling all the hospitals in Hong Kong to search for him, I finally went to file a ‘missing person report’ in the Police Department having exhausted all other ideas.  The nice police officer told me that Mr. Chan went in the hospital on Jan. 22nd, and passed away on Jan. 29th.  Just like that, 4 months after he made a life changing decision, he was gone. I’m sad that I was too late to say ‘goodbye’ to my new friend, but I am so grateful that Father was right on time to meet Mr. Chan & overjoyed that He was there to welcome him Home on Jan. 29th…  Friends, tomorrow isn’t a promise, but everyone can choose today where they will go after their time in this world, you can help to reach & teach them – {1×1}.  -MK

Mr ChanMr Chan3cage guys dinner 2012 7

 

Mr. Au – one step Forward… {1×1 – 2012}

MrAu bwIdle hands lead to destruction… but what about overworked & underpaid hands? There’s danger in those too, but often that’s exactly the work required of the parents we meet, just to feed their family… As a father of 4 children and the sole breadwinner for 8 people (including his elderly parents he still supports back in mainland China), Mr. Au puts in about 60hrs/wk at work. That’s a lot of physical/hard work at the local vegetable wholesale market, making no more than $1200US/m. With his wife in the hospital for the last 3 months, due to recurring depression, he has no choice but to put his 3 younger children in a boarding home until things change…  Yet, at our Manna New Year’s Event (Pun Choi Banquet) back in Jan., Mr. Au made a commitment to The Father. We’re excited to have a new Brother in the Family & we continue to visit him regularly at his 40sqft subdivided home, sharing from our hearts & encouraging him in the Lord whenever & however we can.  We are also doing our best to help steer his 16yr old son onto the right path by taking time to get to know him, playing basketball & inviting him to join our English classes. Walking alongside families in need, this is our commitment to the people of Hong Kong. Thank you for your prayers that strengthen us & release the Spirit’s power into every situation – {1×1}. You’re prayers are felt most in those moments where we don’t have the words, yet He supplies them.  -MK

MrAu familyMrAu prayercagehome 7

 

Mr. Cheng- The Flea Man {1×1 – 2013}

FleaMan 2012 bw2Everyone has a story. Some are easier to understand & some are simply harder to tell. Mr. Cheng has never given us the blow-by-blow of how he came to be living in a sub-divided unit that is literally crawling with fleas, with tiny brown bugs climbing out from under his shirt collar. All we know is that he was once considered an educated man, he had a desk job all his life, mostly as an accountant… and now he is known by his 10 neighbors in the flat as ‘The Flea Man’… I’ve visited him every week for over a year now, sharing a lot about God & life with him, hearing his stories about his life before the small 30sqft sub-divided unit… However, having to move twice in the last 4 months has made things harder for him these days. Knowing how the Lord lifts our burdens, I’ve been asking him to join Our Family every week for the last 2 months; “Let me think about it.” has been his answer every time.  My reply remained, “Ok, let me know next week.” Last week a group of volunteers, including my wife & brother-in-law, came with me to see Mr. Cheng. As we were all praying for his poor health, I said, “Why don’t we say a prayer to have you join The Family while we pray for your health.”  This time he said “Alright, alright.” And he repeated the prayer after me! When I return next week I will bring him a Bible & show him where to start, what a privilege to witness these first moments of Mr. Cheng’s transformation! If I’ve learned anything from this, it is to be persistent. When we are unrelenting in our love for others & in our prayers, like ‘the Persistent Widow” was, amazing things can happen – lives can be transformed! {1×1} Nothing is more important than the eternal choice we all must make, to walk in truth & love with The Father, or to walk away without it…  -MK

cage guys dinner 2012 4FleaMan8FleaMan7FleaMan old flat

Mr. Cheng just after "Joining the Family", with Mark & volunteers: Pia, Josh (brother-in-law) & Andrew.

Mr. Cheng just after “Joining the Family”, with Mark & volunteers: Pia, Josh (brother-in-law) & Andrew.

Mark & I want to thank you all again & again. Your prayers encourage, uplift & strengthen us! Please know that because of every prayer you offer, these men’s lives were instantly transformed by encountering the Father… Many, many more lives are being changed too, seeds are being planted & tangible love is being wrapped around the hurting & lost in this busy city! We are forever grateful to all of you & we know that you rejoice with us in every victory, however great or small! Know that we are constantly praying for all of you as well! In the meanwhile, our job in this city continues, 1 day at a time, 1 person at a time as we go out & share with the poor in spirit & hurting in Hong Kong. Loving, reaching & teaching them – {1×1}.

1x1 logo copywright  -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