Too much is happening in so little time …

Wow. Since Friday, so many amazing things have happened.

Saturday was Siu Ping’s birthday. By the way, we all call her Ping Ping. :) Too cute. Ping Pong loves music, no matter what it is and so I asked a fellow swing dancer from Hong Kong to come to HOLF to swing dance with me for her birthday. It took awhile for him to get her, but when he did it was a great half hour. The kids loved it! I felt so privileged to dance for them. At one point me, Val, Christy (the missionary visiting HOLF), and one other staff member brought some of the kids out to dance to some songs on my playlist. It was so hot, though! Dancing in the heat and humidity with no air con is rough. We were drenched after only a half hour! Pui Yee gave us both  bouquets of flowers from the gardens here at HOLF. They were beautiful. I wish I had taken a picture of mine. It is currently in my room, but it is drying up and wilting now. It was a great day. Though, after dancing I took time to remember my swing dancer friends back in the States. I do miss them, but I will be with them all soon.

Sunday was a phenomenal day. Val and I both had the day off and went to church with Judy, Hephzibah, and the Van Dam family. There Siu Yan joined us because she had been away for 2 days with her friends Amy and Nate who took her in for the weekend. For worship, all the kids (HOLF’s and the Van Dam’s) went to the front for worship. Because this service was focused on family, the worship team had a song  to include the kids with motions and dance moves. Seeing the congregation come together and dance with the kids was awesome! Of course I joined in. I even recorded the joy of it on my camera. It will on Facebook soon for certain. The message was delivered by a visiting pastor from Canada and he was quite the entertainer. He talked about overcoming within our lives. “Run your race (Hebrews 12), receive your grace (Romans 5:17).” Beautiful message. After church, we went to a vegetarian restaurant where Christy just picked food and we ate it all up. So good! I wish I had known the names of all that I was eating, but either way, it was good. :) After that, we all went to Kowloon Park. Judy took Siu Yan, Tai, and Xavier in a taxi to Central Pier and the rest of us walked there. What beautiful views of the city we saw. From Central Pier, we took a ferry across to Tsim Sha Tsui. To get across, it is $3 HKD or $0.42 USD. So cheap to get across! At the park, we saw a kung fu show with lion heads, swords, and everything. It was pretty sweet until my camera died! Thankfully, Val took over from where my camera died. Judy sent me, Val, and Kalok to get McFlurries from McDonald’s for everyone. Seriously, I have had more McDonald’s here in Hong Kong than I have in the past ten years. No joke! Anyway, it was a fun day in the park . On the MTR returning to Sheung Shui, Xavier fell asleep on Tai, his older brother. We all got pictures of them with our phones and cameras. It was so cute.

Like I have said before, Sunday evening dinners means that someone volunteers to come in and make dinner for everyone here at HOLF. This week’s dinner was no exception. It was so good. It is a nice break from the same Chinese food served every week at HOLF. I am a little tired of the food, but I do know I will miss it after I return to the States. I have a feeling I may be asking my mom to get foods that she may have never heard of before in her life. I don’t know. Only the future will tell. :) Lindsey gave his testimony about HOLF in chapel as well. He spoke how he learned to apply the fruits of the Spirit to HOLF and his life. It was a great testimony.

Earlier today, Judy let me go to hospital with her for Siu Yan’s appointment. The appointment was cancelled without anyone informing Judy and she was very upset about it. Yet, it turned into a nice little outing with Siu Yan and Judy. Siu Yan was really good and it was very appreciative to basically receive one-on-one time with her because that doesn’t really happen back in the Ark with 5 other kids living there. Judy and I had a really nice chat and believed we became closer because of this morning.

I know I will miss this place so much after I leave. I need to head back to work, but expect an update almost every day until I return to the States because I want/need to document my last days here as they will be precious to me. the Lord knew exactly what He was doing when He placed the Tri-S Hong Kong trip on my heart and sent me here. His plans are always the best ones. Only 5 more days left with the kids, not including today. I have Tuesday and Thursday as full work days with the kids and Saturday a half day. Wednesday I get to go with Judy, Siu Yan, and Hephzibah to Siu Yan’s other hospital appointment and the Christian Centre in Sha Tin. Friday is Ocean Park with like ten children from HOLF, including 5 out of the 6 kids from the Lower Ark. I am so excited! This week is chuck full of quality time with the kids. I love this place so much.

Keep me in your prayers as I prepare to return home!

Walk in love.

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Week 7 is Favor

This week has been a phenomenal week, to say the least. The Lord has been touching my heart and my world in so many little ways that I can hardly take it all into my soul. This post will be me reliving a few special moments from this week. I hope they touch your heart as much as they have stolen mine. :)

Let’s start with Monday. This day was like any other here at HOLF. Recently, a missionary family from Japan has come to visit Hong Kong for 2 weeks. As a project with the kids here at HOLF, the 3 boys and their father made origami with the HOLF kids. It was so cool. Willem, the oldest boy at 11 yrs, helped me make my first crane. Then, Tai (8 yrs) made me a frog. Xavier (4 yrs) is still learning to make origami, but I still had a wonderful time. Judy returned later that day from appointments and Kalok put the cd “Jesus is my Superhero” by Hillsong into the cd player and it was awesome. Willem, Tai, Xavier, Val, and I were able to dance around with Siu Yan, Hephzibah, Shaun Shaun, and Dibs. Kalok and Fung Tai didn’t want to dance and actually left the living room. Haha. Too funny. But, dancing with all those kids was such a blessing. The children appeared to be radiating such pure light and joy. That worship experience was such a great happiness to my spirit. Our God was definitely with us in the lower Ark as we danced for him. At one point, I was spinning Dibs in her wheelchair so she could dance. When I looked at her, I almost began to cry. Dibs was smiling so wide her eyes were shut and she was squealing like she always does but this time it was different. This time it hit me that these last 2 weeks with her would were precious. I needed to cherish them with all my might and strength because I don’t know when I will see them again after this. That “dance party” will be a highlighted moment for me and this trip.

Wednesday had a couple of great things about it. First was swimming. Val and I took Shaun Shaun swimming first. She kept kicking and kicking. Her smile was huge as she swam in the water. Next was Kalok with Hephzibah joining later after she got home from school. Val, Kalok, and I made the pool into a wave pool. So much fun! The best part was when Hephzibah joined us in the pool. Before that day, she has played in kiddie pools or been restricted to holding the wall or someone holding her in the pool because she can’t swim. Judy bought her an inflatable lifejacket that let her go around the pool by herself. For almost 2 hrs I witnessed her play in the water, spinning around and splashing all by herself with a contagious laugh that DID NOT STOP. I have never seen her so happy. For those 2 hrs. I was literally in Heaven. I was content to letting her stay in the pool forever if that was what she wanted. Just thinking about that memory brings tears of joy. I seriously have not heard a better sound before in my life.

Judy let me off work early so I could go dancing since I didn’t go last week. When I got there, there were a ton of hugs and such as I arrived. The dances were just fantastic!! It has been a while since I have laughed like that at a dance function. Maybe CBUS 6 in Columbus, Ohio hosted by SwingColumbus? Haha. Anyway, a new friend, Willis, that I made here had just arrived and so he asked me to dance since it was my last week with him. We were the only ones dancing because it was a bit of a faster song. After like a minute of us being the only ones on the floor, people start clapping to begin a jam circle. So much fun!! Unintentional jam circles are the best. It was a blast. Two different people will not be here next week and so I had to say goodbye early. Sad day. One’s goodbye was just great. He is a youth pastor and is a lot of fun to dance with on the dance floor. When hugging me goodbye he said, “See you in Heaven or before.” How awesome! Later on, me and my friend, Michael, were cheered on by a lot of bystanders. It was a night full of fun. hopefully, next week will be even better because it’ll be my last one before I head back to the States.

Now, my freeday from Tuesday was so awesome. Val, Lindsey, and I went to Lantau Island for our day off together. First, we went to Mui Wo Beach by bus down the mountain where we rented bikes and rode around in the countryside. Okay, one of the things on my bucket list was to ride a bike in China before I die. Well, that can be crossed off the list!! It was so much fun! We found a few temples and a waterfall. I have never been in a waterfall, let alone see one that close up before. It was beautiful. Val graciously took some pictures of me and the waterfall. Then, we took a bus back up the mountain to go to the Big Buddha and the Lo Pin Monastery. The Buddha was seriously huge. You can see it when you are low on the mountain. No joke. It was a phenomenal sight. There will be pictures on Facebook in a day or two. :)

Finally, yesterday was an outing to Sai Kung with Judy, Fung Tai, Shaun Shaun, Wing Sze, Emmanuel, the missionary family, and FA FA!! Fa fa was able to join us and it made my day. Fa fa was a little down which was upsetting. I spent the entire outing cheering her up. I used to be able to do something silly and get a laugh from her and today she wouldn’t laugh. By the end of the day, she was her old self again. But, I got my first (and hopefully only) sunburn here in Hong Kong. I am still a little red this afternoon. Haha.

That is my week thus far. I have only 8 more days working here not counting today and August 7th because I leave that day before anyone is awake in the Home. God is answering my prayers for peace and joy to fill my last days here at HOLF. God i s definitely showing me favor in these last days. Keep me and my team in your prayers as we finish our stay here in Hong Kong.
Walk in Love.

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My testimony of HOLF

This past Sunday, I gave my testimony of “finding God” during the evening chapel. There are some American missionaries from Japan here as well and the boys shared their experiences of living in Alabama and Japan. My finding God was more of finding Him here. This is my rough sketch and plan on adding more to it once I finish my time here at HOLF. Here it goes …

 

Upon my arrival to the Home of Loving Faithfulness, I was expecting adventure that mainly included my travels outside the walls of the place. I also knew that I would experience a summer that would last a lifetime, but it was not what I expected at all. I was so brutally wrong. My adventures of climbing temples, visiting museums, seeing the ocean will not be what first come to mind when someone mentions Hong Kong or China. No. When I hear the words “Hong Kong” or “China” or anything related to that particular culture, memories of HOLF children will flood my mind, more specifically Kalok, Siu Yan, Hephzibah, Dibs, Fa Fa, Shaun Shaun, and Fung Tai (nothing against the rest). Seven children of God ranging from the ages of eleven to sixty changed my heart, my Spirit, and my life … and I believe it’s a change to last the rest of my lifetime.

            On my first day of work at HOLF, I saw 7 children that were disabled with Downs Syndrome or restricted to wheelchairs or partially immobile. I saw disabled children. Every day I looked with pity on these children with an identity tied to their disability. This surprised me because of my experience with special needs including a nephew with Downs. My sympathy for them was so great. Spending 7am to 8pm every single day was a huge task filled with responsibility, hard work, and a whole lot of selflessness. It was difficult because I saw everyone here doing all this with ease and a sense of love that was phenomenal. I could sense God loving everyone here through them. Truly remarkable. Why couldn’t it be that easy for me? But, by week 3 something changed in me.

            That Saturday morning was a huge step for me. My mornings are really important to me in that they affect my entire day. I woke up that Saturday morning determined to be ready for the day with a new sense of determination to just be me and really see what God had in store for me here at HOLF. I asked the Lord to fill my day with more laughter and less stress. My prayer was heard and granted. I felt the Lord in this entire place. Every breath, every move, every gesture, every thought. It was an amazing thing to feel. It hasn’t gone away, either. I let go of perceived thoughts about the children and the staff and just let go and let God be God. Since that day, I honestly cannot get over the fact of how much God has worked on my heart. That first week was the first step.

            People who are very close to me know that I sometimes have a problem of letting people into my life or I push certain people away that I feel threaten the consistency in my life until I know they are safe. Well, that was definitely the case here because I knew nothing about HOLF or the people. It was a huge struggle because no matter what I thought or did, these people were going to be around me for 8 weeks, whether I got to know them or not. On July 2nd, Jude planned this awesome birthday party for Siu Yan since she did turn 16. What a beautiful day it was with so many people there to celebrate life and their love for this precious child of God. That day will be a highlighted memory for me about this place for a couple of reasons. One reason was that the party was so much fun! Playing with the kids and being a kid with them is really special. The second reason is that God began breaking down that wall of perceived thoughts of people. The seven children that I subconsciously identified as disabled children began to be identified as children: nothing more, nothing less. Fung Tai playing with a bubble machine, Hephzibah and Siu Yan playing with play-doh, Fa Fa’s laughter genuinely bringing a smile to my face, Shaun Shaun’s smile radiating joy like a five year old, Dibs yelling out of excitement, and Kalok with his blocks turned into pure joys of my heart that day. And, they still are to this day. From that day, these children have continued to bring joy to my heart, even when I have a not-so-great days in the Ark.

            By week 4, I recognized the children just as children who always want to be loved. Then it hit me with my prayer time that these children were more than just children. Serving every day in the presence of the Lord is a joyous feeling and seeing Him all around is perfect. One day I looked at Dibs and then later Siu Yan and suddenly realized I was looking into a creation of God. A creation of God. I know that God created the Heavens and the Earth to His liking. I have also read countless times that God created Adam in His image, but it didn’t really sink in on what that truly meant until that day. You see, when I looked at Dibs and then later Siu Yan, the questions of where they came from and where their biological parents were crossed my mind. What their parents and families looked like, or their family lineage or anything along those lines. I began to feel sad that their parents couldn’t experience what I was experiencing. Like a flash of lightning those questions were answered both times with the answer of “their family does know and their parent is God.” Genesis 1:26 says “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.” When God created the Earth, He made humans different from every other creature He created. He loved us so much more the rest of Creation that He made us like Him, in His image. It’s like me looking like my mom and dad because I contain parts of their DNA. Since God created all of us like Him, we are all initially related, like siblings are related to one another because of their DNA and looks they inherit from their mother and father. So, when I looked into the eyes of Dibs or Siu Yan or the other children, I am looking into what God looks like. Because God created like all like Him, I am looking at my sister or brother. HOLF and all the people here are family. This answered the questions about their family with the fact we were all created in God’s image. We are all in this together. We are all family.

            After 6 weeks here in Hong Kong, my heart is still changing with my Lord continuing to work on me in the most miraculous ways through these children. I cannot replace this experience in my life and when I leave, I know it will be a very difficult day for me because I will be leaving behind my family because they have been my greatest adventure. They helped me find and experience God in a brand new way.

I love you and hope to see you all in 1.5 weeks. Keep me in your prayers. Leave comments so I can know what you all want to hear. Also, my freeday will be posted in the new few days. :)
Walk in Love.

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God doesn’t forsake us, seriously

Life here at HOLF is getting close to ending for this period of time. With a short duration of time getting shorter before my departure back to Indiana, God has continually make Himself known to me and my comrades in all that we do, see, and hear at HOLF. Recently, there have been a few incidents God has used to remind me that He is always for me and will never forsake me, leave me to rot, forget about me, or not care as much as He did the previous day.

1. I am becoming careless as a child:
Don’t take this statement in the wrong way. I am turning 22 in August and am slowly exiting the naive stage of my life. I have so much to learn, but I am thankfully no longer a teenager. Yet, the past 3 years of college have been the best in my life thus far, but maybe the worst. Once upon a time, everyone knew me to be the innocent one (still somewhat true to this day), but it was a child-like innocence with life, love, and the world. Over the last couple years at college, it has disappeared. Very sad. Since Wednesday (July 20) God has (re)taught me to genuinely enjoy my life through the eyes of a child. That means literally viewing the world like a child that sees everything as good, laughter is a daily/hourly occurrence, and when you are in trouble or in fear you run to your parents (in this case, God) and receive the protection you need from your fears in the biggest and best hug. The world is a place worth exploring to see what the world really is made of and has to offer all of us.  All the kids in my unit have helped in this lesson: Fung Tai teasing me when I (still) do something wrong; Shaun Shaun smiling at my jokes toward her or the fact she is completely content holding my hand to make her hour/afternoon; Siu Yan grabbing my hand to swing it back and forth as her way of playing or her dancing with me to her favorite songs because she is sharing her musicality; playing with Kalok; Hephzibah laughing and playing with her while bathing her; Dibs getting so excited when I walk into a room; Finally, playing in the playground with Val and all the kids (minus Siu Yan and Kalok) in the water, splashing around and getting all wet just to see a little girl smile and even getting in a water fight with Val! Okay, these may seem odd or not significant in any degree, but these incidents are all simple things in their lives that make their day. Life of a child is simple and beautiful. When something is wrong, those children can turn to any one of us for comfort, love, support, or a good friend because they know we are there for them, even when they misbehave because we love them making everything simple and beautiful once again. I learned something this week from them and am so grateful for them. (Matthew 19:13-15)

2. Power of Prayer
This doesn’t apply directly to me specifically, but enough to make an impact. All day Thursday I kept getting attacked by water either with Shaun Shaun’s bowl when I was washing it to Hephzibah getting me all wet while I was bathing her to me dropping drinks on the floor … Almost every time this happened to me, I thought of Val and Lindsey on this hike and how much water they brought with them. I would send a prayer asking for their protection and for them to have a good time. I thought nothing of it at the end of the day. Please continue reading ….

Yesterday, Val and Lindsey went on a hike that they thought was 12 miles long which after hiking 12 miles found to be 15 miles long. 30 minutes from the end of the hike, Lindsey’s body began to slowly shut down from severe dehydration. His body couldn’t take the long hike, continual pounding of the sun, and humid of Hong Kong all at once and thus it reverted to survival mode when there isn’t enough water in the body. Through God alone the only hiker they see during the day passes by as Lindsey miraculously got his phone to call emergency in an area known not to have reception only to be dispatched to a Cantonese-only receptor who talked with the bilingual hiker passing by. The firemen and the rest of emergency got to him just in time because his health was degrading fast, receiving the treatment needed within half an hour of the call. The hospital cost was completely covered with exact change that Lindsey and Val had together. Point is, God was watching out for the two of them. The same thing could have happened to Val, but I am thankful it didn’t. Everyone is safe and sound. No lives were lost (I cannot bring even begin to imagine what would have happened if the timing was a tad different in this situation) but prayers were being sent to them yesterday from not only me, but people all over: People here at HOLF, the prayer list I am on at church, my school, my family, my friends; all these people pray for me and my teammates every day and you see, God hears their prayers and mine. He hasn’t forgotten us and will always provide for us, even if that means we are taken into Heaven to be with Him. Experiencing that and also reading “90 Minutes in Heaven” by Don Piper really put an emphasis on prayer and the power of a strong prayer life in connecting with our Lord and really listening to what is going on in the spiritual realm. Truly powerful.  By the way, that is only the people that are praying through my connection. This is not including their family, their friends, or their churches.

3. Time is a Gift
I believe this lesson to be a re-occurring one and always will be for me, personally. Time is short. Our time as humans on this earth is so short that it can be described as a present, like a gift on your birthday, that you cherish and use wisely. I like to think of time on earth as a single thread in a tapestry; one thread that is so insignificant that it is forgotten about, but when you look at the full picture the impact of thousands is magnificent in a beautiful scene based off the thousands upon thousands of threads. With the little time here at HOLF, I may not see what my impact will be here, but God knows because He already knows the whole picture. I don’t have to worry about that because it’s in His plan, His image, His eyes. With that, I need to do as God instructs me. “Time is free, but it is priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. Once you’ve lost it, you can never get it back” – Harvey McKay. Now, all I need to do is apply that to my spiritual walk daily and I am golden. Hey, we are always a work in progress. :)

Honestly, that is all I have to say for now. Keep me and my teammates in your prayers for the next 15 days (well 16 for those in the States). Always be open to what the Lord is trying to get through to you because you may learn or relearn something that He deems necessary in your life.

Walk in Love.

This you know, my beloved brethren, be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger. James 1.19

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Recent Sickness

Hello world.

I have not written recently because I am so busy! Life here at the Home is definitely picking up speed with the children and their lives. So much that at the end of the day I want to go out with Val and have girls nights with the HOLF pastor’s daughters or swing dancing or seeing Harry Potter in what HK calls an IMAX 3D screen. Boy was it small!! Hysterical. Yet, after all that expressed fairly quickly, I have something to admit.

Bitter sweet moments await me in the next few weeks. Time is flying away and I feel that I cannot have enough time with all the children before I go back to the States. Their laughter, their smiles, their mischievous manners, how we interact, their faces, my daily routine with them, everything! These children have done a wonder on my heart and I truly am captivated by them all; Fung Tai, Dibs, FaFa, Shaun Shaun, Kalok, Sui Yan, and Hephzibah. This weekend it hit me I am leaving in 3 weeks. Honestly, it’s more like 20 days now since it is after-work hours. I have been fighting tears and the urge to sweep them all in my arms and say “I love you” to them all. Heartbreaking.

Today was my day off and I went to church with Judy, Kalok, Sui Yan, and Hephzibah. All four of them go to The Vine in Wan Chi (Hong Kong Island). We took a ride down there (didn’t have to pay for my transportation the entire day!!) and went to the park beforehand and watched them play and old people stretch in the park. Apparently, it is a normal thing to see early in the morning.  Anyway, I arrived at the church with no expectations and was really touched by my Lord in so many ways. Yet, during worship at the beginning of the service the song “Blessed Be Your Name” was played and the part that says ‘you give and take away’ really hit me hard. I have been in a spell for few days because I am not looking forward to the day I leave these precious children here in Hong Kong. It honestly hurts my heart. Why did God allow me to be so attached to them when He knew I would be leaving so soon after my arrival? I was in pain throughout worship. The message was about Family and how we are always there for one another, whether you are biological or not, no matter the distance. The pastor then instructed that as a body of Christ we break up into our biological and non-biological families and pray together. Judy had to take Siu Yan to the restroom and left me with Kalok. It was a wonderful moment that I will not forget. Then, as a family we had worship again. The worship team played the same song (Blessed Be Your Name) and this time, I felt the Lord tell me during the same part that pained my heart just an hour before that I have been given a gift that cannot be taken away which is this beautiful family I am currently a part of and when I leave I will forever have a place at HOLF, especially in the Ark. I love them like I do my own blood for blood runs thicker than water and my family always comes first. What a joy to have such a special gift. This time with these children is a present from the Lord that I can never repay Him for and I am so thankful for this gift.When I leave I will be leaving behind my family but be full of memories upon memories that will last a lifetime. I will be a new person because of these 7 beauties. Sorry: 6 beauties and 1 handsome man. My God is blessing me over here more than I think I deserve.

After church we went to say goodbye to a Pastor named John at another church down the road because he and his wife, Jean, are moving back to England. The church service had so many gifts and performances to show them how much of an impact they have left upon their lives. It was an honor to witness this and see how thankful the community was for all their commitment to the congregation. I was able to take a picture of Pastor John and Jean with Judy and the children. What a beautiful memory. Since it was nearly 1:30pm, we took the children to an Italian restaurant for lunch and got them pizza. After finishing her bread that was service before the pizzas came out to the table, Hephzibah she wasn’t going to get any more food. So, she started crying. Don’t take this the wrong way when I say this, but it was so funny causing me to laugh so hard to produce tears. My goodness! The waitresses saw this and assured her as the pizzas were coming out that she was going to get food. We also got dessert on the house! It was egg pudding. Very delicious, might I add. Because Siu Yan looked tired and it was nearly 3pm, we got a taxi and headed home to  HOLF. We took some pictures in the car and I got one of Siu Yan and I with her smiling. That is a rare occasion for her to smile into a camera. Today was a fantastic day that I will always remember and smile upon remembrance.

What is interesting that earlier this week, the Ark had an outing with some others from the Big Unit. We just went to the Sha Tin mall. Let me add, the malls here are NOT American malls. There is seriously so much in the malls and so much to do. Yet, with the wheelchairs we couldn’t do much. We took them to Toys R’ Us and got lunch at KFC. I haven’t had that in so long. Holy cow. During lunch, I was able to feed Wai Ching from the big unit. I don’t get the opportunity to interact with her as much and so it was really nice to bond with her. Something hysterical that happened: Fung Tai always chokes because she laughs while eating, but continues to feed herself causing us to take her food away until she stops coughing. For dessert, Irene, a now retired worker who joined us for the outing, bought us all egg tarts. Fung Tai started laughing at something causing me to chuckle. Then, she chokes. Instead of drinking water or at least waiting for the coughing to stop, Fung Tai shoves the entire pastry into her mouth choking even harder … while laughing at the same time. I don’t know how she does it. I laughed so hard to tears. Judy had to turn me away from her so as not to encourage Fung Tai to do it again. So funny!

Laughing to the point of tears and barely breathing reminds me of Steak N’ Shake with all my swing dancing friends back in the States after Fountain Square in Indianapolis. I am sort of homesick for family and friends back in the States. So prayers would be great for me until I return to the States. I am already having to figure out my first week’s schedule out. So much to do!! AH!! :) I love and miss everyone back at home.

God is moving and I pray that He continues to work on me and my heart. Love to all!

Walk in Love.

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I Feel Like I Am Home

These past days have been fantastic ones here at HOLF. Most days I have woken up feeling a little tired. For some reason, Val and I have been going to bed really late for about a week now. It’s now catching up time. Didn’t help we went across the street to watch a soccer game one night, midnight chats another night, coming back late from concerts (Val) or swing dancing (me). But all in all, they have been good nights.

On Saturday we all celebrated Siu Yan’s birthday with a party. It was a blast! Val made the cake and icing all from scratch. There are no boxes of cake mix or icing here. All day we kept singing “Happy birthday” to Siu Yan so she would understand that we celebrating her birthday. Boy, was it fun! Judy is big on activities with the children and so upon returning from breakfast, we played with play-doh and bubbles outside for about an hour. I got some pictures of the fun on Facebook. :) Here is a picture of Fung Tai with a Finding Nemo bubble machine. She loved it.

The festivities continued with coloring and decorating the cake by Val (I was sent on missions galore that morning). She really did a fantastic job on that cake! We are still trying to finish that big thing! At 3pm, Siu Yan’s party began. We opened presents and then went outside for birthday cake shenanigans and eating dinner. Homemade birthday cake (butter-cream with chocolate frosting) along with homemade pizza with mushrooms, tomatoes, and pineapples on sour dough bread. Yum! It really was a fun day. Siu Yan’s favorite present was definitely the bells she got from Judy (her house-mother). The bells are all the notes (do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti-do) and you can either ring them or press the top of their stems to make them sound. She adores those bells. She’ll come home from school and go to her room to play with them. It is awesome. And, I like playing with them with her as well because they are so different and unique. Siu Yan is very musical and has a lot of rhythm. Whenever there is a noise or sound, she mimics the tone and keeps time with her hands or by dancing. Soon, I plan on seeing what she can do with more difficult songs, like old big band music and such that I have on my iPod. I have a feeling she will do well. The day ended with tired children after a wonderful celebration of life. Siu Yan had an awesome sweet 16th birthday party.

Sunday through Tuesday were just fantastic days. I felt I meshed well with the routine of getting everyone ready for the day and keeping them entertained and what-not. Monday was pretty awesome. To celebrate the 4th of July here in Hong Kong, I made patty cakes cupcakes with glaze icing, blue and white icing to be exact. They were so good and are already gone, thank you very much. Val and I got lots of giggles and lots of smiles yesterday with everyone. After the day was over, Valerie (my supervisor) gave us Haaggen Daz ice cream to help us celebrate the 4th! How sweet of her. And, she gave me and Val these colorful and fun plastic bracelets to help us celebrate America’s birthday. She is just an awesome person.

Yesterday (Tuesday) was by far the best one yet. Bathing went really well, even though Irene was with me this morning because Rebecca had yesterday off. By the time I was through, it was time to send the other kiddos off to school and then breakfast time for me and Val. Coming back was relaxing because Judy went to go pick up her friend from the airport taking Fung Tai with her. This meant it was just me and Shaun. We had fun! After I finished making lunch for Shaun and Fung Tai (for her return from the airport), I painted Shaun’s nails. She picked the color ….. BLACK. A woman after my own heart in fingernail decor. Haha. At the end of the day, Valerie said to Shaun, “Let’s look at these retched nails.” She said Shaun’s picking a witch’s color was her affair and that she doesn’t prefer red either because it looks like nails are dripping blood. Ha! I love this woman. Well, after painting, we watched a movie and I put her to bed for her nap. Judy also talked with me about having an outing with me, her, Fung Tai, and Shaun to Noah’s Ark. I’m so excited about that! We are going June 19th and I cannot wait to see a real sized replica of Noah’s Ark! Upon returning from my break/nap, I played the frog game version of Hungry-Hungry Hippos in the United States with mainly Kalok until dinner. It was so much fun! Hephzibah and Siu Yan would join in along with Val at different points but after a while it was just the two of us. Kalok doesn’t usually play with others unless he trusts them. So, I felt really blessed and felt he was beginning to trust me! How encouraging.  Diana was here today and she always adds some favor to the atmosphere when she’s here volunteering. We ended the night with more laughter, more smiles, and more joy than I can remember up to this point. I felt at home and told Judy, Val, and Diana something before my work day was over. I want to find a way to get back to visit HOLF after I leave. This Home has a special place in my heart that I cannot even begin to explain or think about not returning to this place. My heart is so full when I am around the children and there is something about me that is changing because of this trip. My outlook on the residents as a person and this building that is built solely on everyone’s faith in God is beautiful. Some days I fight tears of happiness as I see love pouring from all corners of this place. Something else that was really cool: Val, Lindsey, and I walked to China after we got off work… almost. We came within a 3 minute walk of the border and turned around. If we went any further, we may have been shot by border patrol or arrest and kept in mainland China. And, I didn’t get bitten by a single mosquito! The bug spray worked this time because I remembered to put it on. Oh yeah!

Some days all I want to do is be here. Like on Friday, I went to Central and Victoria’s Peak. What was interesting was this was “Handover Day.” In 1997, Britain handed over Hong Kong to China like the lease stated from 1897. I thought that Hong Kong was happy with the changes. Yet, I witnessed hundreds of thousands of people march in petition along the streets crying out for change; either as to be their own country or to be back with England. Very interesting, I must say. I watched this parade of people for almost 2 hours! But, there were to be fireworks at 8pm that night near Central and I waited for them. At a quarter past 8, I learned they were in Wan Chai and I didn’t really want to travel again down there because I missed HOLF and being with people who I care about and people who care about me. It was lonely and silly to wait for the fireworks by myself in my personal opinion at that point. I wanted to see them because it’s July which equals fireworks galore in the USA. So, to cure my loneliness, I went back to HOLF to be with my friends. It was the best decision that evening.

I love everything about this place and am doing all I can to be the servant that they ask me to be. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. No complaining and no sour faces. It’s just an experience of a lifetime that is already leaving an impact on my heart and spirit. Lord, continue to break down my walls.

Walk in Love.

Brit

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Swing Dancing is A Universal Language

Swing dancing is a universal language. After just an hour and a half of dancing and meeting people from California, from Australia, from Hong Kong …  it is a unique culture to be a part of at this time. This thing called swing is a common chain that can link us all together. I had a blast meeting so many new people. And, after tonight I can confirm that swing is the same all over the world. From the keds to the technique to the smiles to event the hugs after each dance. It’s all so similar in a fun and unique way. Even the unique form of each dance and dancer is expressed beautifully here.

The people were friendly here just like in the states. I love being here in Hong Kong and now have two homes: HOLF and the swing world. I am in a good place with swing dancing. I met some great dancers who I look forward to seeing again very soon. I couldn’t stop smiling on the train back to the Home. I am so thankful for this passion God has given me for dancing, more specifically swing dancing. I hope  I don’t fall through cloud 9 back to reality any time soon. :)

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Above is what I wrote on my Ipod Touch coming back on the train. All that still feels true at this moment as I write this blog. When I arrived at Grappa’s Cellar at 7:40 (almost an hour early because I wanted to make sure I could find the place!), I was so nervous and ordered a coffee (I miss coffee!!).  About 10 minutes later, 2 guys from California show up and they are visiting China and Hong Kong for a month. We got to know each other and just have fun talking for about an hour. Around 8:30, some music came on to warm up the beginner class. After hearing me say that I was needing a good swing-out, Newton (one of the 2 guys) asked me a dance. It was awesome!! Then the beginner class began. I was going to join but there were so many follows that I decided against it. It was neat to see they taught the beginner lesson as “Slow-slow-quick, quick.” Just something I notice. :P When the beginner class was given practice music, Eric (the other guy) asked me a dance. Epic! After dancing with Eric, a local asked me to dance … in English! Sweetness. I was worried that I would have to deal with a language barrier. Most of the people I talked with knew English well. What was really cool was that I met a youth pastor! He was the first local lead that asked me to dance. :) Before I entered I was determined to prove my theory that almost all leads are engineers, business oriented, or some type of structured career along those lines. So, when I asked Josh (the youth pastor) if he was an engineer, he laughed and asked if I was stereotyping him because he was Asian and had glasses. I told him my theory and he agreed with it but informed me it didn’t apply to him. Haha. I gave up on my goal after that guy. It was a funny moment. I met a lot of great leads that brought out a new style to my dancing that I haven’t experienced before. One man, Brian, even led me into an aerial, safely and with enough room on the dance floor, successfully! Let me tell you, it was awesome. The people were so great. The only difference I experienced last night was that the leads look genuinely at their follows in their eyes as they are dancing with them. No looking around to see who to ask next or trying to get the follow to read more into the dance. It was just a pure look of “I am having a blast dancing with you!” look. Loved it. Besides that, the swing scene all around was like the Midwest swing scenes I have danced with over the course of my dancing career.

I left early (10:30) to make certain I got back in time for my bus to the Home. Well, I kind of got ahead of myself and took the wrong train making me one station behind at one point. I wasn’t worried all that much. After I got back to the right station to cross lines, I was fine. Didn’t really shake me, but it did add 20 minutes to my trip back. What happened next, well … just read on. When I got to Sheung Shui, my troubles for the night began. While descending the stairs to get to the bus terminal, I noticed a heck of a lot of buses which usually isn’t the case) … most with their lights off. The buses are supposed to stop running at midnight, and it was 11:30pm. Uh oh … So, I ran to my bus station to see if it was running. It wasn’t. Crap. I asked the driver where I should go and he pointed me toward a bus. I go to the bus he pointed at and they didn’t know what the guy was talking about. Ugh. So, I go asked someone walking down the street. This person thought I said Kowloon, not Kwu Tung because of my ‘accent.’ I was getting worried. Oh, to make matters goes against me, I forgot the pamphlet that was in Chinese to use as a tool to help me get to the Home. UGH! I honestly was on the verge of crying. At this point, I was continually looking up at the sky asking God for help that could only come from above because I wasn’t sure if I could make it to the Home. Finally, 2 men who saw my frustration helped me get a taxi with an English-speaking driver. The agreement the taxi driver with me was I had to tell him where to go as we got closer because he didn’t know where the Home was, even though I told him the full address. He was such a nice taxi driver. He made sure I got across the street safely (he let me off on the left side of the road and the Home is on the right side of the road) and in the gate safe as well. I was very appreciative of his kindness. I walked into my room at exactly midnight. Not the time I wanted to get back to the Home. Oh well. That last portion was definitely the worst stress I have experienced in a LONG time. The fact I wanted to cry because I wasn’t sure how I was going to get back to the Home was the worst feeling I could have after a great night of dancing. Lesson learned: Bring a Chinese Pamphlet that I can use with the taxi drivers as a tool – point and go!

God is good and gave me a great night full of joy and a lesson well learned on depending on Him in tough situations. He got me through it.

Today was a good day with the children as well. Val made the bottom layer of the cake we are making for Siu Yan because her birthday was on Tuesday but we are celebrating on Saturday with a big party. Tomorrow, we make the the 2nd layer and the icing. Exciting! Fung Tai and I were joking with each other all day and Hephzibah was a good girl with me tonight: obeying and not being mischievous. All in all, my days are getting a whole lot easier here. Something I haven’t mentioned, the house-mother, Judy, came back on Monday from her 3-4 week holiday in Greece and England with her friends and family. I didn’t know how to feel about her at first, but she is turning out to be pretty awesome. We have a lot in common and she is a really neat woman of God. She came to China to be a missionary with children on the streets. When she got here, God called her the Mother’s Choice (an orphanage in Hong Kong). From there, she became a house-mother to Kalok, Siu Yan, and Puion (he’s now with his adoptive family in the USA). When Mother’s Choice wanted to put the children in a facility, HOLF contacted her and asked her to be a house-mother with the 3 children along with 4-5 other children at a time. Mother’s Choice agreed to let her keep the 3 children with her as long as she stayed at HOLF. It’s really cool. She had no idea her life would turn out this way and she loves it so much. She bought presents from Greece and I witnessed her love for her “children.” Really amazing stuff there.

Well, I am going to call it a night since I only got 5.5 hours of sleep last night. Tomorrow is my day off (again) and is “Hand-over Day” in Hong Kong (when HK joined China in 1997). What will tomorrow have in store for me?

Walk in Love.

Brit

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