Newsletter – October, 2018

AUGUST 14-22, 2018


TUESDAY, AUGUST 14 – Jack and I drove from our home at eagle Landing to Longview, Texas to begin our long trip to Hong Kong for the Global Children’s Network Family Conference to be held at a YMCA camp in Hong Kong. The airport call letters for the regional Longview Airport are GGG which has something to do with Greg County. The airport is very small with only two flights from and two flights to Dallas each day. This is the very best part of our journey as the flight time to Dallas is only 34 minutes. Since the main leg of our journey did not begin until the next day we stayed overnight at our son Justin and his precious wife Katlyn’s house. We enjoyed time with our grandchildren Karys and Kalin whom we affectionate call “curly tops’ because of their beautiful, curly hair. 

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 15 – We returned our overnight rental car at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport after a fill up at the airport Shell Station and a breakfast burrito, compliments of the adjoining Whataburger. A nice start to our trip along with our Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. We checked through with plenty of time to walk and make calls to Gamma, Jess and Bekah. Joshua called right after we were boarded. It is a blessing to have communication with our children. I don’t take it for granted.
Once we boarded it became a matter of getting comfortable for the long flight. Actual air time was estimated at 17 hours due to a typhoon at sea with winds that needed to be avoided. This forced the pilots to take a more northernly course. 
We were seated  back in the “cattle car” as described by passengers who have endured the torturous experience first hand. Our key to survival? Take a sleeping pill and hope it works. A doozie of a trip to fly! We departed on time at 11:00am. Jack and I used our Bose headphones, his with the new ear pads and mine still in new condition. It is so helpful to block out extra noise and allow for hearing of music and/or movies to help pass the time until sleep arrives. The two small seats on the plane don’t give much room to stretch out but at least we could get up as we wanted, but where do you go besides the toilet?
THURSDAY,  AUGUST 16 – We arrived at the beautiful Hong Kong International Airport, cleared customs, got our luggage, and went to find the Regal Hotel desk to book our shuttle to the Sha Tin Regal Hotel on the river about 35 minutes from the airport and 15 from the YMCA camp. This delayed us almost an hour but we did succeed in finding and sharing a delicious fruit drink at a nice airport kiosk.  

Dan and Lou Freeman were at the hotel check in with Esther, our GCN event coordinator for Taiwan and Hong Kong. So wonderful to see them and be able to get to our rooms for a nights sleep. We did really great as were travel weary. But of course, I awoke at 2:30 feeling like it was time to get up! I read my notes for an hour, downloaded messages and wrote some before forcing myself to lay flat and at the very least to pray and be still. I did end up sleeping for another hour. Grateful for that as otherwise evenings are very difficult as we are slowly melting into our chairs looking rather languished. Jet lag always takes a toll but there are ways to compensate.

FRIDAY, AUGUST 17 – Jack and I left our room early and headed to the hotel coffee shop. We were told that it opened at 7am. So back to our room on the 14th floor – room 1440, with corner windows overlooking the River. We had our devotions then headed back down to discover that 8am. was their opening hour. That prompted us to head to the outdoors, rain and all, in search for a place to find a cup of coffee or whatever cam our way. After walking several streets we decided upon a rather popular and authentic little place and to our delight the couple directly behind us from Calgary, Canada spoke English. They were visiting family in Hong Kong and went on to tell us they have to come every year for the food! They were happy to help us order and we enjoyed a wonderful rice noodle and beef soup bowl with a fried egg. Stiff coffee for jack and lemon tea for me. All for less than $10 US!

We met up with Dan and Lou Freeman and went out in search of some towels for them as the YMCA camp were were going to is a “bring your own towel” kind of camp. I am uncertain as to anything else but hopefully we will have decent bedding. Time will tell! We ended up finding some perfect towels, thin and inexpensive, for them at a little grocery store that had a little of everything on its shelves.

We planned to meet in the lobby at 12:30 to check out and get a couple taxis to the camp. Family Camp officially begins at 4 today and we are praying for all who attend. May this be to God’s glory as it was last year at the amazing Taiwan Family Camp.

We met Dan, Lou and Esther at the check out, chained our bags together in the corner of the lobby, and walked to another restaurant attached to the Riverside Regal Hotel.
More noodles and wonton soup, a couple appetizers and mango pudding for dessert was set before us and of course we indulged in the excellent food. We then headed back to the hotel to gather our goods and catch two taxis to the expansive YMCA camp. Upon arrival we were told that it would be at least 4-5 before we would be given keys for the rooms. I think they run a hefty business through this camp, which of course, would be necessary for a business to survive.

We hauled our stuff to a room with a fan and waited until they allowed us to haul it back to the main auditorium, which is air conditioned. The four of us worked to set up 250 chairs for attendees. Patrick, the young pastor of a church where Dan and Lou pastored before when they lived in Hong Kong for eight years was there with his lovely fiancee’. They both jumped into helping set up the auditorium with some of the older “youth” (in their 20’s). They had been asked to lead worship, sound and power point and the children’s programs. I was later told that these young people have been through extensive CEF training so are really well equipped to lead.

Esther had taken the liberty to hand out copies of a book she wrote based upon some materials given to her. She gave one to each family attending. We later found out that she built in to the schedule multiple teaching times for herself which unfortunately compromised our teaching times. This in effect became her undoing as our conference team leaders in Hong Kong and Taiwan decided that Esther did not need to be involved in our GCN family camps going forward. 

People were finally allowed to register about 5pm. Esther shared principles from her book and made some introductions. Patrick and the youth led singing. Attendees seemed to be glad to be there. Spirits were high s enthusiasm filled the auditorium. At 6pm all of us headed to the YMCA food court. The dining hall is quite large. Several sets of plastic bowls and chopsticks were stacked at each table. And large vats of serve yourself rice and soup were found in the middle of the dining hall on both ends. 
After dinner we all congregated back to the Auditorium for a “welcome party” in which Esther presented each persons picture and short bio from the team serving. She called each one forward to say something. Jack and I began to fade as jet lag once again crept in to our tired bodies. 

Eventually everyone received their room keys and they were able to take their luggage and set up their rooms. 
Our room was first floor in a three story block building. Each room contained three sets of bunk beds with vinyl covered one inch mattresses. Jack stacked two each together to make us a four mattress bed on the floor. That topped with sheets and a quilt made for a lot of flipping through the night from one side to the other! Perhaps a stack of three would have been better than two?

SATURDAY, AUGUST 18 – I slept rather off and on starting 2am. We had an instant hot water system available and were able to take warm showers in the morning. There is nothing like a hot shower to refresh ones spirit! And did I mention air conditioning? Every room in the camp was air conditioned. Cool air is such a blessing when the weather is sweltering in August.  It made all the difference in sleeping. Jack and I showered and dressed and went for a walk around the facility. The temperature was cooler than daytime though the high humidity still ever present. 
Before becoming overly sweaty we returned to our room, got hot water in our room kettle from across the walkway and made a cup of “3 in 1 coffee” for Jack and chai tea for me. Grateful I brought some of my own from home.
We are scheduled to speak two times today and tomorrow. I am praying that the Lord will be glorified in our sessions. It is a little unnerving to have not met and communicated with our interpreters yet. Well, the day unfolded differently than I would have thought but suffice it to say that Jack and I did speak two times each with two different interpreters and without having gone over our notes together ahead of time. I pray that God blesses principles in His Word! Esther was in charge of securing interpreters and unfortunately did not make this a priority at all. She randomly choose people at the last minute which amazed us that such people were willing to do this. The quality of translation was greatly diminished. Several on our team stated the obvious. Esther had done this on purpose. Later we discovered that she did not want us there at all. However, her efforts to personally take over the family camp ministry backfired causing her complete removal. The Lord certainly protected us as well as the family camp ministry itself. 
The afternoon Wedding Vow renewal ceremony with wedding dresses for the gals and white shirts and ties for the guys included 45 couples. This is a most amazing event in itself! All were excited to be there and I am praying that the Lord brings healing to hurting relationships. I was able to teach the concept of “cherish” I am certain it is completely foreign but quite honestly, it does not come naturally in any culture.

Couples from the country of C… often do not have a wedding ceremony. They simply register their marriage at the local government office. So they are really thrilled to be able to dress up, have a ceremony with a message, recite and keep copies of signed vows to one another, and take lots of pictures. 

The little ones are really wild things when they are in the auditorium and not in classes. Parenting classes and resources are such a need! Then, add the complication of grandparents doting on the only grandchild they will ever have. So many of the grandparents are not of the Christian faith and that means training is based on a completely different set of values than that of the parents. Children running loose in the auditorium makes for some seriously loud noise, even during serious times. But everyone seems to be used to it!

The “youth” of the Faith Baptist church who are doing the children’s programs shared the Gospel with the children. It is, at this time in C, illegal for children less than 18 years of age to attend organized church and receive Bible training. This is therefore such a wonderful opportunity. Only a few days but seeds of God’s Truths are planted in tender, receptive hearts.

SUNDAY, AUGUST 19 – Jack and I spoke on Biblical Parenting. He presented Deuteronomy 6 and I followed with some practical “how to’s” and a discussion time. It is a first step but much more is needed. I pray that our upcoming online resource site will be populated with information and help for parents and that the people of C will have access. We never know when the tightening of the control will hinder access. The worldwide web has certainly opened a lot of doors. And God is providing many people with great resources to come alongside this effort.

In the afternoon Jack spoke on God’s Big Story. I was to share next but felt that with Esther speaking so much on her book, it was enough for the attendees to sit and take in. Going forward things will be done differently and that will be good in many ways. The leaders of various teams we are setting up meetings with in the future, can assume responsibility for most of the planning and preparation and we can know the schedule and provide the speaking along with special guests from around the world.

The meeting next week in Taiwan with Gracie and Her Mary Kay people will be taught by Otis and Gail Ledbetter. Otis is founder and president of Heritage Builders. I pray that they do a really great job and that things run smoothly. Some of those attending this year’s family camp are returning from last year’s event. 
Many of the husbands who came with their wives and families to the HK conference are not believers. So Dan, Jack and Patrick offered to meet with any of the men who wanted to come together for a Q and A time. They all came! Each of our three men shared their stories of coming to Christ. How we pray for spiritual understanding that the eyes of their spiritual hearts are opened. 

Ying asked me to pray over her for some specific needs. All I know to pray is God’s Word over people and encourage them to claim verses that build a protective shield around their hearts and minds. The Holy Spirit is able to work in them despite the language barrier! Ying and Patrick invited a lovely young couple from their small group to come to this conference even though they are not in MK. A beautiful young couple from all appearances. But it turns out that they had continual friction and fighting in their first six years of marriage. Both got baptized a year ago out of a state of desperation. Han (Shelly) asked for a one on one time. Because her English language knowledge made it possible to have heart level communication it was a very special opportunity to share God’s Word and some helpful principles and pray over her.
I would love to know what God does in their lives going forward but it is enough to live in the awareness that God blesses and uses His Word.

We had a foundational steering committee meeting adding Patrick and Ying, Dan and Jack and me plus the pastor of the HK church and his fiancé. This group will have input into the planning of the conferences going forward among Mandarin speaking people. Since we are dealing with leaders of leaders the main things they need from us is directions and training They excel in the other parts of scheduling and setting up a conference and it is wise to spread out the parts and get input. This also makes opening family camps in other countries much faster. 
The knowledge that we would limit rather than promote growth by holding on to parts and pieces for which we are not actually needed is freeing. And the shared responsibility will keep us accountable in our mission focus. 
In the meantime, while we are here, Aurora is busy in Portugal with preparing materials for training to start Malachi Kids in September with the contacts acquired from the six 4-14’s we did a couple months ago. 
Paul Mamba is just back from Burundi where he did 4-14’s with Gary M and then started Malachi Kids And we are here in Hong Kong already talking about next year’s family camps in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Korea, and possibly Kenya, Africa. God is blessing!

Sunday afternoon was the Rite of Passage Ceremony for the teens who wanted to commit to becoming adults with responsibility and integrity. The teens take this so seriously. It was such a blessing to see 24 young people gathered in a circle with Jack speaking a blessing over each one. Dan translated. The little ones ran like raucous wild monkeys in the back of the room but the teens kept their focus. Perhaps I am the only one affected by the craziness! But next year I think a children’s program would be wise for the times we have serious ceremonies. 

Each teen received a certificate that was in English and Chinese and was signed by them as a remembrance of this commitment. 
I think that each one loved sitting on the chair with a man at each leg and paraded around the auditorium with people cheering and taking pictures. The men, too, were so into being a part of the ceremony and took their role of chair bearer seriously and ceremoniously. 

The last evening meal was the best! BBQ ribs Mercy! They were delicious. Every meal consisted of the serve yourself rice and soup accompanied with other dishes.
As we were late getting to the auditorium and as quite a few had headed in to the city to shop and eat out we were able to gather another table serving of ribs. Jack and I ate with some of the serving team from Faith Baptist, HK. It was such a treat to see their passion for ministry. Each one had been attending the church for between five and eleven years and none came from a Christian home. One young man, the photographer, took lots of pictures over the weekend. Because of their CEF training through the years, the young people were
 well equipped for teaching and serving. Such a blessing!
MONDAY, AUGUST 21 – We packed up our room to attend the closing ceremonies for the children’s programs. Parents worldwide adore their children. It is fun to see them watching, and often videoing, every move of their child onstage. The youth did such a phenomenal job with each age group. We pray that as they return to their home country and provinces of C, that the seeds planted are nurtured by the Holy Spirit and that they grow to be strong in the Lord. In a country where it is against the law to teach children about Christianity, God has given us an open door. The Gospel cannot he stamped out, burned out, buried, dissolved or removed from hearts where it has been deeply rooted!
So grateful that we have the honor of impacting lives for eternity.
Later in the afternoon Dan led us via taxi to a hotel close to the airport. We had the entire next day to explore before our evening departure. Jack headed to Korea for a week with his friend Billy Lee, preaching in churches, and visiting pastors. I flew directly to Los Angeles where I spent a most wonderful day with nephew Zach before returning to Texas. 
Jack and I want all who read this to know that we love to have friends and fellow believers accompany us on adventures around the world. You need only ask!
Dona – 630-309-2000
Jack –  630-400-5501

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