August 22, 2014

Small Things

For the spirit God gave us does not make us timid but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.

I remember the small things. First, a testimony from Sunday's baptism service reminded me of this. How could I know that a minor, encouraging comment about a woman's tattoo, several months ago after a Sunday service, would be a major part of the chain reaction to change her life for Christ!? That's humbling, for her, and for me. Furthermore, the testimony reminds me that all kinds of people in all frames of mind and faith journeys attend our services. Praise God.

Minor breakthroughs on the homefront. The security guard and I are bonding. Alleluia! The beer turned him. Praise the Lord for He redeems and provides for the guard and me. I could share a beer with him and talk to him about it. Tonight I could ask him more -- he prefers the local brands -- and even extend my hand: he grabbed it and held it tightly. Wow! We will have more beer together, God willing. 

August 20, 2014

Education Faculty Prayer Group One

At long last, my Education Faculty has a prayer group. Praise God. This has been many years and tears in the making. God has humbled me greatly in my Faculty; I've been angry and overwhelmed; and slowly God changes my heart by His grace and mercy to such a point where I can begin praying for those individuals around me.

God released the call for a Faculty prayer group, three weeks ago, in two clear messages at the same Sunday service. Jaeson Ma shared about organizational prayer groups of at least two; and as I received prayer for my injury after service, my friend and intercessor shared about making that specific organizational change. I thank God that as He restores me in the physical, He also does so in the Spirit.

I'm humbled and amazed that God cares for the people around me in ways I cannot fathom. We don't even care about ourselves, or know how to care for ourselves, and He loves us.

God has a sense of humor. My Faculty is not composed of many believers. And the first person the Spirit would lead me to ask to form this group is one of the toughest people for me to get along with in my Faculty, and dare I say, in my life these days. In spite of our profession of Christ, our previous encounters were filled with anger and indignation. I don't know this woman, and I sense something amiss not only in her heart, but also mine when I listen to her and then interact with her without compassion and graciousness. And God would ask me to encounter her in this way. He has a laugh with me.

I had asked her to form this group, but to pray about this for an indeterminate length and not to respond to me immediately, as she is wont to do. Indeed, at the time I ignored her immediate agreement and suggestions of other members and reiterated my point of prayerful consideration. In the meantime, I had asked what other believers I know in the Faculty: two could not pray for others in the Faculty and I praise God that these believers know that their hearts are not right to cover those around them. Another Faculty member may get back to me.

My most difficult sister approached me yesterday and agreed to the group and we decided to meet the following day in our common room at a set time. Wow, that was not difficult. That she initiated in this way was amazing. She was not difficult. Praise God!

We met today and I felt God wanted us to pray specifically for our classmates in our shared office -- Faculty postgraduate students are dispersed amongst desks in separate rooms; and in that way my sister and I have been placed in the same office. My sister had her own prayer requests for herself, a friend in our office, and someone outside our office. And I find that even praying in agreement can be tough: we're going on a journey to get there, to be able to pray in agreement with each other. Hallelujah. Maybe you can appreciate the kind of disunity that plagues my Faculty, and to a greater extent, our Hong Kong society.

Yes, even listening to her praying was humbling for me. God patted me on the back and had a laugh with me. How hard is it to lay down my defenses, my past experience and unfair expectations to experience something new and glorious for Dad?!

We did not set a time for our next meeting. My sister was already thinking of others to ask to join our group. I want to be as vigilant and thoughtful about acting on this newborn group as I am in interacting with her.

Finally, even greater joy at lunch. Only by God's grace could I agree to lunch with her afterwards, especially when my attempts to enlist other classmates to join had been unfruitful. We ordered lunch, I went to the restroom, and when I return, she is talking with our neighbors: she had met one at her Cantonese class; he was dining with two other Koreans; and we five had a fruitful, meaningful conversation filled with testimony and vision-casting; and we might meet again! This was not difficult. God has provided and surprised in many ways today. Good afternoon!


August 15, 2014

Language Exchange

And last night wasn't the best. How God gives and takes away. Another case is my language exchange partner.

You know how we met two weeks ago and he accepted Christ after church service. Last night might have been the last time we meet. Talking to him was so difficult. My heart was not in the right, merciful place to build relationship. My mind ran roughshod over this gentle, kind, young man. 

I know we have difficulty communicating. I know I point out his deficiencies, not in language, but in thinking clearly: please ask me to say something again, or ask me to define something. I won't guess your assumptions. Indeed, avoid pronouns and stay on topic.

I wonder how he related to other people, not least because he's asked me questions in English and Cantonese that I have never heard before, and that he has never asked anyone. Question formulation for him is strange, as is his word choice, and these are closely related.

I know we made bad choices, including meeting in Mong Kok at an 11th floor cafe after rush hour. I was 80 minutes late because of vehicular traffic in Kowloon and then pedestrian traffic to board the lone elevator in the building. We should have studied quietly in the Admiralty HKU Space. We have room and reliable public transport at Admiralty and not at Mong Kok.

Our cafe choice was ignoble. We had a minimum charge and I wasn't eating; we were forced to move seats once; we were later forced to leave; and no matter what the staff members say, they are not sorry; in my anger, I paid the bill and let the staff know to keep the change, and that we would never return. 

Breaking Up

These past few days have been tough. I decided to cut off relationships in my life. As God has spoken to me through my sprained ankle, so I am acting now to cut off unhealthy relationships. Letting go of these relationships hurts, not least because letting go of anything can sting.

First, something light: God tells me to stop playing basketball. Too extraordinary a sport these days. I need stability this season. My propensity for the extraordinary makes me mad sometimes. I met my younger brother in Christ at his workplace on Tuesday. I misjudged the transportation logistics badly. Like my language exchange meeting the previous Friday, I eventually show up, 80 minutes late, flustered, pissed off. Thankfully, I do not hold anything against my brother. The complexity of Hong Kong transport upsets me. That I willingly meet my brother on unfamiliar ground upsets me more. At long last, I could accept my humbling circumstances and appreciate, just as with last Friday, the time cost to not do that again. I will no longer venture far to see my brother. Time to enforce the boundary. 

No more IA2, unless every other female lead flames out. I will see her again if she is inescapable in my life, a curious part of God's will for me. Otherwise, on Wednesday, she defined the relationship for us when she asked me to introduce nice men to her, even though, or perhaps because we had scheduled a call for that evening. I did introduce her to my brothers because I care about her happiness; and I care about the happiness of the three brothers whom I have asked. I thank God for a resolution to my indecisiveness, however humiliating. One girl less for me to consider is one step closer to a sustainable relationship.

Now I have two tickets to the UFC next week and need a date. The Lord provides!

At long last I let go of AT. The conflict had become too frequent, and too avoidable. The co-dependency was severe. Whatsapp was an enemy that kept coming back because I let it, and that enables my brother to hurt me with his hurt. Through Whatsapp, my brother made one last incredibly, hurtful, incoherent, unsolicited comment: Bless u, bro ! Can feel some kind of hardship coming your way this morning -- like last time with the air conditioner incident, I called him immediately after his message and told him I do not receive; and once more, I blocked him on Whatsapp. He later apologized. No need to apologize this time. 

If we were boyfriend and girlfriend I would have broken up our toxic relationship perhaps even earlier. Now that we are brothers in Christ and no longer friends, I accept letting go: God willing, we will see each other again, maybe in this life but certainly in heaven without all this pain and brokenness -- I have no idea what he suffers these days; what taste I have is shit. I can love him from afar in this life. No performativity pressure, especially since we aren't friends. 

God is compassionate and gracious. And no hard feelings for my brother. Praise the Lord that I can love and pray for him from afar! Yes, he suffers much, as I do in this place. We had a good season. And God moves me into a new one with another person, maybe my wife!

August 12, 2014

The Missing Piece

I've been angry since Saturday. I noticed I've been dropping foul language freely since my shocking f-bomb on the basketball court. I've been repenting a lot too.

Like Saturday, today I melted down. I melted down in my common room. The causes were complex: an unidentified assailant put a bag filled with paper by a rubbish bin in the common room; mrs. man saw the bag, and refused to take it out, complaining loudly, frequently. She was indignant and angry; she asked everyone who came in the common room if they knew the assailant; a futile search, even with a possible lead: all hearsay; and she was always complaining loudly, indignantly. She was not taking out that bag!

I experienced her helplessness, self-righteousness and brokenness, and then my own. First, I knew Mrs. Man did not want to take responsibility over someone else's irresponsibility, or ignorance. I also knew that finding the culprit, and then the reason for the culprit's actions were not worth the effort. Besides, my organization is not built to exert this effort: reflecting our society, sending a clear message to and establishing common knowledge for a hyper-individualistic, survival-mode people are nigh impossible. How do we effectively educate people about the rules, and empower them with such responsibility for themselves and others to obey the rules?

My anger reached its apex when an administrator, a Christian, walked into the common room. Mrs. man accosted her and once more complained loudly about the bag. The administrator was impotent too, even in her role, because she is one person, in a meandering, mortifying, alienating organizational structure -- for which reason Mrs. Man doesn't shut up and take the garbage out; for which reason no one who walks into the common room cares and wants to care; for which reason everything happened in the first place.

I rushed to the bag, picked it up, and for good measure picked up another trash bag. Fury lined my face. I asked both the admin and Man where to dispose of these. The admin asked me if the bag was mine -- no. The admin asked me if I knew who placed the bag -- no. The admin asked me why I was taking the bag out -- so I could exercise responsibility on behalf of the Faculty to relieve Mrs. man and me from our intolerable suffering. I then demanded to know the disposal location -- downstairs. I marched with my furious face!

In fact, I had no idea where on the ground floor to place the bags. I dropped some foul language, and then the bags in a large rubbish bin -- I found out later the bag with paper ideally should have gone to the paper recycle bin. Next time!

I had a good laugh with Father and repented. Dad has a sense of humor and a great grace for everyone in the Faculty. On the way up, I felt calm and quiet. I went back to work in the common room. Mrs. Man and I did not speak -- and I wonder when we will speak again. Update: I said hi to her the following morning and that was the extent of our conversation.

Later, I had been engrossed in my work; I was standing up with my laptop on a window counter, and my back was to the common room interior. Someone was tapping me on the shoulder, perhaps several times as I had been unresponsive. I turn around and saw the admin. She asked me if I was alright since I was angry when we had last seen each other. I praise God for her care: she's special because out of everyone in my entire Faculty, whether staff or student, she is one of the precious few who have consistently initiated with me -- and I recall when I had joined briefly a student journal working group only to quit a week later out of frustration, and this woman of God thanked me for my attempt. She's not an angel. She's a Godly woman, even better!

I said I was fine and explained in part the forces of my frustration and how this complex problem was beyond the help of our individual effort; the misplaced garbage was just a sign, just as the mounting luggage and rubbish in my office and the books on a common room shelf and the decaying posters in the hallway are signs of ambiguity, individualism and irresponsibility, I said. We must pray nonetheless, I added, and I invited -- more like challenged -- her to join me in a Faculty prayer group that God had released two weeks ago at Sunday service. I thank God that she did not immediately accept, and she may eventually respond. Praise God for a good seed in good soil. She may be the missing piece so that from one person to two people, a Faculty prayer group is born.