Tuesday, January 31, 2006


I was chatting with a friend today and realized that I feel emotionally drained. I'm not sure why... maybe it's due to living in a different culture and trying so hard to become a part of it. Maybe it's due to the effort I have to put into building relationships here or keeping up with ones in the states. Maybe it's just because I'm a Mommy and Isabella requires a lot of energy and I'm just tired. I think it's a bit of everything all piled up and it hit me today. I found myself wanting to run and hide... my self-esteem low, my spirits down, and tears just welling up. These emotions shocked me but it made me realize what a great support group we had in MN. Sometimes I feel very lonely here but that's not a bad thing. It forces me to step out of my comfort zone, meet people, explore, and spend time with God. I could very easily hide... this city is big enough for me to get lost among the people but that's not what I want and I don't think that's what God wants either. He brought me here to stretch me and to use me and He can't do that if I don't let Him. And I SO want to be a part of His big plan! I think living here will be a constant spiritual battle because we're here for a purpose and satan doesn't want that. Satan knows what brings us down and uses that against us. These things I've been dealing with lately are the stronghold he has on me but I pray continuously that God will give me victory. It's amazing how a little prayer can change your thoughts, your attitude and make them glorifying to God. My prayer is that we all would give God these struggles and not let Satan get ahold of us in these ways. It's too easy to get down and run away but then we miss out on all the cool things God has planned for us. I have a verse that I use in these times (thanks to my MIL) "For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and a sound mind," And I often quote that when thoughts run into my head that bring me down. I quote that, smile, and move on knowing that through God I can do all things.

I didn't get any great pictures at the parade last night so I took a picture of the dragon puppet we bought Isabella for her first CNY. It's a bit scary looking but it's a neat memory.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

One more thing...

Mike reminded me that I wanted to blog about his because I thought it might make some of you giggle. Isabella is all Uhlinger... (LOL) she loves to run around naked. She also gets terrible diaper rashes (fortunately not painful). Not sure why this is, we know in the summer it's because of the extreme heat but not sure why it hasn't continued to get better. Anyway.. that's not the point. When she has a rash we'll let her air out a bit before putting on her new diaper. I'm sure you can guess where I"m going with this. Tonight was one of those nights. I let her play while I got her a sleeper and Mike was taking a picture of her and neither of us realized what was going on. She stopped for a minute and was rather focused. Mike went to grab her for me so I could put the diaper back on and guess what.... the floor was all wet! This girl never ceases to make us laugh. She peed all over the floor but I must be grateful that she missed the carpet!

Well... we tried

Today has been a busy but great day. It started with me being able to attend church and to top it off... Mike preached! His message was shortened to about 15 minutes but it was powerful and challenging. He talked about Luke 14:15-21 (The parable of the great banquet) and how we all make excuses to basically say 'I don't have time for God.' The biggest excuse being I'm so busy... since when should God get our left over time? I know I make my excuses and this was a great reminder to think twice before I say, "I can't because..."

After church we had the youth over to our flat for a spaghetti dinner and to hang out. We always ask for a RSVP now because of the amount of space we have and expected about 5 students to come. PTL that Mike bought some 'extra' food to stock up on because we had 18 people here. I wish you could've seen how we squeezed in... our flat definitely is not made for that many people but it was awesome. The kids had a great time playing video games and watching movies and I just loved the fact that we had that many people show up.

Tonight was the night of the big parade and I was pumped. I didn't care how long we stayed as long as I got to see a dragon dance. Knowing there were to be so many people, we planned to take the ferry across the harbour and check out the crowds. If there were too many people we'd just turn around and watch it on tv. We got there and the crowds didn't seem to be too unreasonable so we looked for a spot. We did find one where I could see enough to take some pictures if standing on my toes but that spot quickly grew smaller as it neared 8pm and the crowd grew. By 8:45 or so, we left our spot because Isabella was extremely tired and having a hard time being squished. I was completely bummed that we waited all that time to turn around and leave but my disappointment quickly turned into pure frustration. We got stuck trying to leave on a sidewalk that had people standing shoulder to shoulder and then people started to push. A lady behind Mike was screaming for us to move (as we all politely told her that was impossible and we were all trying) and soon started to push her way through. But I'm very thankful for a protective Dad and two other men who decided they were going to protect this cute little girl. My frustration grew by the second as I experienced my first HK shoulder to shoulder crowd and fear that my daughter was going to get hurt. We made it through and on our way out got to see a few little things but the pictures we attempted are pretty blurry. Another bummer for me because I spent a lot of time designing some scrapbook elements to use for my CNY pictures but I have nothing to show. And to top it off... we stayed long enough to miss the parade on tv. As disappointed as I was, I am thankful that we made the attempt to go. It was still neat to be a part of the culture in this way and to see what this parade is all about. I will say though... tomorrow night we're watching the fireworks on tv. Don't think any of us could handle another night like tonight.

Note to self: Next year pay the money to sit in the grandstand so we can see everything clearly while sitting!

It's here!

I'm up too late as it is so I just wanted to quickly say......


It's the year of the dog! Many wishes of prosperity, longevity, luck, etc.... LOL This is so much fun!

Friday, January 27, 2006

And so it begins...

What a fabulous day we had today! Isabella didn't wake up until 9am which is always welcomed... especially by Mommy, unfortunately Mike couldn't enjoy that because he had his Men for God Bible study at 6:30am. Then we met Mike and went shopping for our 'New Year' outfit which was fun. We decided to treat ourselves to shopping in a real mall rather than at a market so it was fun to explore stores we've never heard of. Although we did stop at Brooks Brothers, Columbia, and Polo. (I always get excited to see a store that I'm familiar with.)

(r)evolve was tonight and Isabella and I joined because afterwards three of our girls were going to take us to a 'flea market' that only happens during Chinese New Year (aka CNY). Apparently it's a huge deal and we all wanted to experience this. What a great time we had. The girls took the time to explain CNY traditions, what different characters meant, what the different flowers stood for, and what their families do to celebrate. I was soaking everything in. I love it when they share their culture and lives with us. The market was nothing like I expected. It had all these random inflatable hats and balloons and dog items (it's the year of the dog) as well as flowers. There of course were tons of people but not nearly the crowd we expected. Since we had the girls with us, we decided to try some 'street' food. We had this dessert (in the picture) that basically was sugar (we had plain and strawberry flavored) wrapped in a crepe and dim sum (dumpling) with fish meat inside. The crepe was edible... the dim sum not so much. LOL Mandarin trees are very popular for CNY so we tried to buy one but they were too big to carry home when Mike's still got a bum knee and I was carrying Isabella. So we opted for this plant (in the picture) which is to bring us prosperity. And so we begin CNY. We are planning on attending the parade on Sunday night and fireworks on Monday so I hope that Isabella will co-operate. At least we can watch the parade on TV if she doesn't.

I feel so blessed to be here during this time. I know I was disappointed that our trip to Thailand was cancelled but I'm so excited to be a part of CNY. I've always been interested in learning about other cultures and being here during this time is teaching me so much. Now... if only I were young enough to get laisee (red packets of money).

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Lagging behind....

How lucky am I to have the greatest man as a husband? I certainly don't give him enough praise. He's just so thoughtful and loving and well... I could go on and on. I started working on this layout this morning and it was so easy to know what I wanted to do. I just wanted to show him how much he means to me.

I have to thank Andrea (of Embellish... look to the left) for introducing digital scrapbooking to me. I've been having a blast making pages and decided to upload them to a gallery so if anyone wants to take a look at them they can. Look on the left and you will see the link. Enjoy...

So I'm a bit behind on my blog entries which is frustrating to me but there have been some great things that have happened over the past few days. Children's church was great this past Sunday and I got another volunteer to help! PTL! Monday, we had dinner with some friends which was tons of fun and yesterday Cindy found me a ticket to the states for about $700 US dollars! Isabella has been sleeping incredibly well and I feel so rested and energized! To top it off... this weekend starts Chinese New Year which means fireworks, parades, and Mike's home with us for several days! Also means that we all get to buy a new outfit (lol) because it's tradition to start the New Year off with new clothes. Won't complain about that. (ha ha)

I've been learning a lot lately to rest in God's arms and let me tell you how much peace that has given me. It's so wonderful to know that God is in control of everything and I can put complete trust and faith in Him.

On a cute note.... our daughter is the most fearless thing ever. She has a little rocking chair (the one from you Jenny) that she has learned to climb onto (so thankful we don't have stairs!). Yesterday she was trying to get off of it but wasn't sure how. So what'd she do... put her arms out and dove for the floor. Thankfully, I was there to catch her but it just means that I have to watch her even more closely. What a cutie she is! She also loves to play on our bed and when I put her there she giggles so hard it's adorable. Ahhh... I LOVE being a Mom. Nothing beats her reaching for me, smiling at me, or crawling her fastest to catch up with me.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

An experiment

There are some really cool things about HK... having your groceries delivered, having the choice to eat any type of food from any culture, eating a mango flavored ice cream cone, paying $1 for a McFlurry (can you tell I like ice cream?), market shopping, etc but I must say... is there any other place in the world that you can have McDonald's delivered to your door (or KFC for that matter but it's pretty nasty here.) I was desperate for Isabella to get her naps in today because we were heading out for the evening but I was also desperate for some food and our kitchen was empty.... so I tried something new. I ordered McDonald's for delivery. Didn't know if they'd speak English or after breathing a sigh of relief when they did, if I would end up with the right food (we've had several experiences where we ordered, went home only to find the wrong food) but the adventure turned out quite well. What a little blessing to know we can successfully order McDonald's when there's nothing in the flat but we're too tired to go out and not a lot of money to spend. Ahhh.. The little things.

On another note: We were invited to a 'Fellowship' group this evening (aka small group) with several other couples. Mike was the guest speaker and Isabella and I were there to learn. It was great! I got to know a few other people in the church and one couple had a little boy 11 days younger than Isabella. How fun! Mike did fabulous as always... I'm always so proud of him and God spoke to my heart about relationships with others and how we are to be loving and not expect anything in return. That's hard for me because when I put my heart out there, I like a response but I was reminded that God sent His Son to die for me and there are times I don't take the time for Him. How can I expect anything from others when I do the same thing to God? This is a truth that I've learned before but the reminder was in perfect timing! God always knows what and when we need to be reminded of things and this was such an encouragement to my heart.

Another blessing that came from this evening......... (I know you all are waiting...) A TEACHER for 2/3's!!!!!!!!!! PTL PTL PTL
I can't even begin to tell you how much I needed this bit of encouragement! So we're back to 3 with the potential of 1 more and this new teacher insists she can get a few more! WOW... I've been so stressed about the state of this ministry and finally said... OK God, I have to put this in YOUR hands and look what has happened. See what we do to ourselves when we try to do things on our own! GOD YOU ARE AWESOME!

Well... the day looked shabby when I rolled out of bed at 7am (SO not used to getting up this early) but tonight as I write this, I'm just blessed beyond words. I've said this before but... How do people survive without God in their lives? Who do they credit when awesome things happen? Hmmmmm.... off to think about this some more.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Trying out...

Happy Birthday Isabella~


It was a rainy/misty day today so I chose to stay indoors and play photographer. Isabella turned 8 months old yesterday and was due for her monthly pictures. Still working on the editing of the pictures but thought I'd post one anyway. It's been so much fun watching her change each month... this month I'm happy to report that she finally has some hair that you should be able to see in the pictures! The poor girl gets mistaken for a boy all the time because of her bald head. Also, I think we've finally come to the conclusion that she's probably one out of a million babies who doesn't need as much sleep as they say babies do. She's officially waking up between 7 and 7:30am now and we're lucky if she'll nap for 45 minutes, 2 times a day. I have a hard time with that but once I'm out of the bed, I can manage... it's just getting out (or should I say rolling out) that's the problem.

Tomorrow is (r)evolve again and we're trying to make a decision as to whether or not I should be involved. The kids love Isabella which is awesome but they are also VERY distracted by her. Ahhh.. the joys of not having a building or nursery. So I guess we have decided that I will come and eat dinner and hang out before hand but will leave when the evening officially begins. It breaks my heart but I know this is the best thing for our students. The last thing I want is for them to be distracted from God's message.

I'm still pretty busy studying Chinese New Year and learning a lot. I bought Isabella a dragon marionette to celebrate her 1st CNY. It's a bit scary looking but the Dragon Dance is huge so I felt it was appropriate. I want Isabella to be a part of the culture here as much as she can. What neat stories she will have to share when she gets older.

God has been really good to us the past few days. Nothing extremely exciting has happened but our spirits have been lifted and the 'weight' of our recent struggles seems to be lifting. He is good and I know it's because so many of you were praying for us too!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Dragon fruit

I've been sitting here off and on for the past hour trying to think of something creative, something intellectual, something exciting to share and well... this is what I came up with. Dragon fruit.....

I've been afraid of this fruit since we moved here. It's just creepy looking to me but today I decided to venture out and buy one. I brought it home, still a little afraid but anxious to see what was on the inside. When I finally got up the guts, I cut it up and was surprised by what I found. I've eaten this fruit before without even knowing it. I've seen the 'cut up' version of it but never knew what the whole package looked like. It's not the most appealing fruit but it is tasty and I was glad I finally got the guts to buy one.

I think I've been afraid in HK. Afraid to make this place my 'home' for what reason, I don't know. Maybe I'm afraid to enjoy living here and making my family in the states feel bad. Maybe I'm afraid because I miss and want the conveniences of things in the states. I'm not really sure.... but today was a good step for me. Getting outside, getting fresh air, and buying this creepy looking fruit did wonders for me. I felt a release, a release to enjoy the lifestyle of HK, to enjoy the culture of HK. I wish I could explain it but words escape me right now. All I can say is that God is Awesome! He meets us and loves us where we're at but doesn't want us to stay there. He wants us to grow daily and today was a good swift kick in the behind for me and I needed it.

On top of God giving me this release, He sent the most encouraging words to me through Jenny. Her words made me tear up with sadness of missing her and her family but also with joy because these words of encouragement reminded me that God brought us here to use us and He's going to do exciting things.

So I decided today that it's time to venture out a bit more and see what God has in store.

4 of...

Four jobs you have had in your life

Teacher's Assistant, Piano/Sax/Voice Teacher, Research Associate, Paralegal

Four movies you would watch over and over

A Knight's Tale, What a Girl Wants, You've Got Mail, Office Space

Four places you have lived

Toccoa, GA-Birmingham, AL-Anoka, MN-Hong Kong

Four TV shows you love to watch

Married to the Kelly's, LOST, Alias, Scrubs

Four places you have been on vacation
West Palm Beach, FL- Denali National Park, Alaska- Lake Tahoe- West Virginia

Four of my favorite foods

Spaghetti, Thai Roast Duck Curry, Malaysian Satay, Bread

Four websites I visit daily

Hmmmm... Usually on to check email: Gmail, hotmail, May Mommies, ????

Four places I would rather be right now

MN, PA, OH or FL with family (although I'd be pretty content where I'm at if I felt better)

Monday, January 16, 2006

What to say...

This has been a trying weekend. On top of my being sick and Mike's knee, I received news that my FIL is sick, our friends Dad is sick with a long recovery ahead of him, and one of my teachers resigned. Aghhh... I received an email from a friend who said, "Makes me think that God must be doing some good things through your family! We've learned that when we all seem to fall apart that God is usually doing something and Satan doesn't appreciate it too much...sometimes we don't know what's going on."

Her email made me think hard and it reminded me about what I read yesterday about the book of Job. I'm reading 'The Bible Jesus Read" by Philip Yancey and the chapter devoted to Job reminds us that it is Job who is on trial and not God. Some take this book and say... how can God be so cruel but it's not about that at all. The chapter also talks about how some people become believers because of what we can get out of Christianity. Sounds funny but the more you think about it the truer it is. Some people only want to follow God when things are going their way and turn against Him when there are troubles. Here Job is tested when everything he knows and loves is taken from him. How will Job respond? Would he simply have faith because of.... well for no reason? How would you respond? And that reminded me of this weekend... or even more.. the past few weeks.

Although, I haven't experienced anything close to what Job has, the past month or so has been difficult. Little things have continued to happen that when added up, stresses a person out. So I asked myself, how have I responded? Unfortunately instead of saying I've found victory, I've found defeat and my attitude has shown that. Don't get me wrong... this isn't a 24/7 bad attitude but I have found myself very frustrated, down, depressed, etc. Why? Because I took pity of myself and starting asking the age old question... why do bad things happen to good people? Actually not so much that question as the opposite... why do good things happen to people that aren't he nicest or most deserving or even following God? That's a terrible attitude and I found myself asking... have I failed God's test? What's going on with me?

I think it stems from the fact that I often find myself questioning my purpose here in HK. I can't work, my ministry is limited with our church set-up, and I don't speak enough of the language to have conversations with people that I run into. I know my purpose is to raise Isabella but for some reason that's not enough. I think it's because I'm so used to what I had in MN and I loved everything about it. My studio, the school, my girls...etc. Parts of adjustment here in HK have become increasingly harder the longer we're here. I was warned of this but didn't expect the adjustments to come in this form. I thought maybe... food, climate, getting around, etc... the basics but they run much deeper. So I have to ask myself ... will I trust God and have faith just because? Do I need answers in order to trust Him?

Gen's statement "sometimes we just don't know what's going on" is so true at this point. I don't have any answers right now and I have to be okay with that. So today begins with the attitude of "Having faith just because" and also taking "One day at a time."

I'm so thankful to have JB and Iris to go through this missionary experience together because they always have great wisdom to share and this is something Iris shared on her blog that I must agree with... "I'm happy to say that God is triumphant and has brought us here for His purpose, not that our will would be done, but rather His! Days like today make me very glad I serve a very BIG God, because I surely couldn't do this without HIM!" I'm right there with ya girl!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Dr visits

Well.... the next few days are going to be very trying for the Rose household. Mike found out he dislocated his knee and needs to be on crutches and I'm sufferring from an ear infection and virus. It's very difficult to care for Isabella the why she needs to be when I'm sick and Mike's physically unable to. I'm praying really hard I can fight this thing quickly.

Don't really have the energy to write much but wanted to ask for prayer.

Friday, January 13, 2006


My ear has continued to get worse so Isabella and I stayed home today just enjoying each others company. It was fun to just watch her explore our flat and giggle at her toys. At bath time, she just stood next to the tub giggling as the water filled up. How precious she is. I put her to bed and began working on some details for 2/3 Children's Church and that's when my heart just sank. I have such a passion for this ministry... such an idea of what it should look like but I'm stuck. I'm desperate for commitment from others who want to see this ministry succeed. I'm desperate for teachers, space, materials.... When I have a plan, I want to go, go, go but for some reason God's saying No, No, No and I'm not sure why. I'm at a loss right now... but being at a loss isn't always bad. It makes me place it in God's hands and trust Him for guidance and wisdom. He knows best and I'll wait on Him. That's all I can do. Pray... it all starts there anyway.

Speaking of prayer... please pray for Mike. He injured his knee today and tomorrow goes for an MRI. Please pray it's nothing serious... there's nothing worse than having an injured body part that's necessary for walking in HK. Funny... we were just talking about how awful it would be to be to have something that's necessary for walking, injured. At least he hurt it while doing one of his favourite things, mountain biking.

At the request...

2 names you go by
Melissa & Missi... but ONLY to family (Drama Queen on occasion)

2 parts of your heritage
Slovak & German

2 things that scare you
Mountain roads with no railings & the thought of something happening to Mike or Isabella

2 of your everyday essentials
Coke Light & a Tank Top

2 things you are wearing right now
tank top and a Chinese necklace

2 of your favorite bands or musical artists (at the moment)
Dave Matthews & Barlow Girl

2 favorite songs (at the moment)
'What if His People Prayed' Casting Crowns & 'O Holy Night' by the Terrible Singer (lol)

2 things you want in a relationship (other than real love)
Respect & Creativity

2 truths
I cry when I think about Isabella having to grow up in such a scary world & I've lost about 35lbs since moving to HK

2 physical things that appeal to you (in the opposite sex)
Curly hair & Eyes that smile

2 of your favorite hobbies
Playing Piano & Taking walks (not sure if that's considered a hobby but I love doing it)

2 things you want really badly
To adopt a child & A gallon of REAL milk

2 places you want to go on vacation
Italy & New Zealand

2 things you want to do before you die
Pray with friends to receive Christ & Run a marathon

2 ways that you are stereotypically a chick
I like a good deal & Never happy with my weight (although I'm almost there)

2 things you are thinking about now
How can Children's Church be more beneficial & What I want to do/see/buy while back in the states

2 stores you shop at
Esprit & Toys R' Us (I'm more of a market girl... ha ha)

2 people i would like to see take this quiz
Amy & Rachel

Sea Sickness and Sleep

If all days (weather wise that is) could be like yesterday, HK would be a much better place. LOL (Okay... it's really a wonderful place but those summer days are killer!) I'm not exactly sure of the temp but my guess is about 70's. The sun was shining and the sky was blue... ahhh how beautiful, I had to take Isabella outside. We went to the park across the street and played in the children's area and walked around the path. We even met two little Chinese boys her age but unfortunately their Moms didn't speak any English. I'd show you pictures but something is wrong with either my camera, our computer, or the cable and it's not letting me upload anything. Grrrr

Tim and Cindy called and invited us to Lamma Island for dinner so of course we said yes... but alas we didn't think about this decision. We ate at the Rainbow Restaurant because they offer a free ferry to the island and that's where the problem began. Actually, this problem began about 3 years ago when I started getting sick after being in a car for about 5 minutes. Everyone insisted I was pregnant but after Dr's appointments and testing, I found out I have a 20% loss of my ability to balance. This isn't too big of a deal, I went through physical therapy for awhile and it improved but there's always one thing that affects my balance no matter what... an ear infection. And if you remember my previous post, the sickness going around the church office and home hit me and yesterday developed into an ear infection. Thankfully, the ferry ride to the restaurant wasn't too bad and I didn't feel nauseous at all but the ride home was different. I'm not sure if it was because of where I was sitting on the boat, because we just ate or what but I didn't feel so good as I stumbled off the boat. PTL I didn't enjoy my dinner twice because it would have been a long time before I could eat seafood or Chinese food again and I love both of those. So although, this was a long evening for me... it's funny to me now and I definitely learned something.

Do not forget my seaband bracelets (help with motion sickness) and don't ride a boat with an ear infection.

But among the blessings of a gorgeous day, spending time with friends, and good food; God blessed me with an amazing treat last night... SLEEP! Isabella did not get up until after 6 this morning. As most of you know, Isabella still does not have the best sleeping habits but last night was awesome and she even went back to sleep after this 6am feeding! No doubt this was a gift from God because no matter what I try (and trust me I've tried everything) only God can make her sleep for that many hours! LOL I even woke up, without an alarm, before her... Now that's a good night's sleep!

Thursday, January 12, 2006


Well... I thought I survived the sickness that has been passed around the church office and home but unfortunately it has lingered enough between Mike and Isabella that it finally hit me. I must say though that I've having better luck with it than Mike has... and I hope that continues.

Yesterday was a gorgeous day as I headed back to the Jade Market with the same ladies. We took a 'feeding' break at the park outside the big tent and it was here that I learned a bit more about this part of town. This park was obviously a place for older men to spend their days... whether is be sleeping on the benches, talking, playing Mah Jong, or even getting haircuts. For such a small park, there were tons of men but I shouldn't be surprised... it is HK. Although the Jade Market is a popular tourist sight, it was obvious that white people were not a common sight. As we sat in the park, the men just stared at us... especially the babies. In fact, one man followed Isabella around like a hawk. It made me nervous at first but as other men came closer I realized they were just watching this little white girl with blue eyes crawl around on the concrete. It was at this park that I also saw homeless people for the first time. It broke my heart but I don't know why it shocked me as it did. I guess with the emphasis on taking care of the elderly in Chinese culture, I was surprised to see some on the streets.

I caught a cab on the way home and this is where the highlight of my day came. I jumped in and said... "Hung Hom.. and where we live (not sure how to write that in English). The driver repeated and said... 'Your Cantonese... very good, very good." I had to laugh because that's about the only thing I know other than Thank You and Good Morning but it was such an encouragement to me. I realized that the only way for me to get better at Cantonese is to speak it, so even if I only know a few words... I need to say them. So my goal today is to look up a few other words or phrases and practice them.

So maybe next time I hit that market I can get even better deals (LOL) because I can prove to them that I live in HK by knowing at least a little Cantonese.

What a treat I had today actually several treats that made me feel 'at home' in HK.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

You can choose your attitude

Isabella has another cold, poor thing. Her little cough just breaks my heart but she's happy nonetheless. She teaches me so much on a daily basis and her joyfulness challenges me each day. Like today...

We had to cancel our trip to Thailand and I was so bummed! I was really looking forward to getting away to some place that has space and grass and dolphins! And when this decision was made... my attitude changed and I got crabby. I was so frustrated, disappointed, ect but then I looked at my daughter and she smiled. It was at this point that I realized my attitude was my choice and I could choose to be crabby or take a spin on this disappointment and see the positives. By staying in HK, we get to experience Chinese New Year and I'm really excited about that. I've heard about the fireworks, the parades, the dragon dance and now I get to see them all. So now while Isabella sleeps, I'm busy researching CNY to see the traditions and what different things mean and learning tons. How cool to be a part of the culture here and to experience this!

Something cool that happened as I changed my attitude... I realized that we could indeed go to Thailand but at a different time and it will actually be better. It will be cheaper for us, much warmer and it will be after I return from the states so it will be a great chance for us to be together as a family after being a part for so long. And while I discovered this, I discovered VERY reasonably priced tickets back to the states and so I'll be able to save on that trip as well. So although, I'm still bummed about having to wait (I never claimed to be a patient person) some great things have come out of this disappointment that I highly doubt would have if I hadn't changed me attitude. Thanks Izzy.... thanks for smiling!

Monday, January 09, 2006

What a great day!

God is so great is providing the things we need and He knew I needed a lift after the weekend I had. What an incredible day it was. Nothing major happened... but I felt God's love and He gave me such joy in the little things.

Monday's are my favorite days. I love having the family together and exploring our new home. Today our goal was finding Isabella a new bathing suit. So off to the Fa Yuen street market in Mongkok we went. We took a different route to the market this time and it took some walking to find what we were looking for. But I must say it was nice to explore and find our way on our own. We left Mongkok feeling much more comfortable with this part of the city. In fact, we ran into another market, a North Face store, and another great mall that had a Mountain Hardwear store which thrilled Mike.

Anyway... we were very successful in our shopping endevors which was an added blessing. In fact, on top of getting her a swimsuit we found a great place to by any type of nut (they are very pricey in the grocery stores), we were able to pick up some Chinese New Year candy, Mike found his pack for his hiking trip and I found a great pair of jeans. Material things yes... but special treats to us when you've been desiring these things but having a hard time finding what you need. There's no such thing as Walmart here and you have to explore each store to find all the things you could find in one place back in the states. I often mention the malls that we explore but I must remind you these are no ordinary malls. Most stores in these malls are way out of our price range. You'll run into stores like Louis Vuitton, Armani, and the likes. So while it seems that everything is available to us... it may be but it definitely comes at a price. Something we are not used to.

The day continued to get better by the minute. Isabella waved for the first time at least we're pretty sure it was a wave and the recipient was a random man on the elevator but he was impressed and thrilled to know it was her first time.

Our evening was full of fellowship with friends. We had four people over plus a baby (which is a lot for the size of our flat) and it was great to chat over great food and brownies...yes brownies again. lol Isabella was so cute trying to play with Lillian and it was just like having family with us. I can't even begin to tell you how much I needed this fellowship and I believe it was a gift from God.

It was a great day no doubt but I'm tired and need to start getting to bed earlier. Blessings to all.

Oh and... Sarah~knowing that you care that much really made my day! Looking forward to seeing you in Feb.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Brr... Yes I said Brrr

Today I experienced what it's like to live in an area that does not have central heating. I found myself pretty chilly at church especially because I forgot to take my jacket out of the washing machine last night and had nothing to keep me warm. I was hopeful that the amount of people in one room would heat it up but no such luck. It seems people don't go out when it's this cold... (LOL about 50 degrees)... or at least that's what it seemed like today with the large amount of people missing from church. Mental note... bring back my winter jacket for next year! By that time, I will probably be even more adjusted to 50 being cold.

On another note... it's been a hard weekend for me. I've been debating all day what to post in my blog and how honest I should be. I started this to keep myself focused on how God works each day and realized that I've always posted about positive things. So I debated about posting a negative thing but then I realized that God doesn't just work in the good times but also in the hard times and through our trials He draws us closer to Him. And then I realized... that there aren't many people who read this, I just started it as an easier way for me to track my thoughts and those that actually do read probably want to know what's going on with me. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that those reading this are probably praying for me so if I share my heart they'll know better how to pray.

Making a short story long....
I'm by no means a perfect Christian who has everything under control. I have struggles and I go through trials yet I try my hardest to come out of these praising God and growing. However, I have one struggle that I've been dealing on and off with for about a year that I can't seem to get a grasp on and it hit me hard this weekend. It made me struggle with my self-esteem, my purpose in life, and my confidence. What makes it even harder is knowing that if we were still in MN, this struggle would have been dealt with about 3 months ago with some great wisdom from my MIL. But what makes it worse is that I'm dealing with this while dealing with the adjustment of another culture and I don't have my best girl-friend to talk/pray this out with.


But it's good too because I know that God will bring me through this! I've never been more confident in this than as I write this right now. I know He's using this to draw me closer to Him because it's forcing me to memorize scripture and to pray all day long. I'm excited for this freedom to come but I know it will take time and discipline.

I've said this before but it was a great reminder to me today... God is in everything... good and bad and He uses all of it to draw me closer to Him if I have an open heart. I'm open God... teach me!

This picture made me smile today so I had to post it. We have a guy in our group that uses the word 'gangsta' all the time and it just makes me smile and when I looked at this picture, I thought... 'She looks like a gangsta.'

Saturday, January 07, 2006

O Holy Night

Today Dan and Geeta stopped by for a visit! We haven't seen them since before Christmas as they were in the States so it was great to spend some time with them. This was the couple that called us out of the blue shortly after we moved here and we've enjoyed spending time with them ever since. Dan is from Indiana and Geeta is from HK. Before they left... they gave me a special treat. Geeta felt I would especially enjoy this since I was a Music major and wow.... talk about ROTFL! I immediately added it to my iTunes collection and will enjoy this as much as I enjoy Jimmy Fallon imitating William Hung.

Friday, January 06, 2006

You might live in MN if.....

If you consider it a sport to gather your food by drilling through l8 inches of ice and sitting there all day hoping that the food will swim by,

If you're proud that your state makes the national news 96 nights each year because International Falls is the coldest spot in the nation

If your local Dairy Queen is closed from November through March.

If someone in a store offers you assistance, and they don't work there.

If you may not have actually eaten it, but you have heard of Lutefisk.

If you have worn shorts and a parka at the same time you might live in MN (and your name may be Caleb Kohl...lol)

If you have had a lengthy telephone conversation with someone who dialed a wrong number.

If you know how to say Wayzata, Mahtomedi, Edina and Shakopee.

Your idea of a traffic jam is ten cars waiting to pass a tractor on the highway. (been there!)

You measure distance in hours.

You often switch from "heat" to "A/C" in the same day and back again.

Your whole family wears Viking purple to church on Sunday.

You can drive 65 mph through 2 feet of snow during a raging blizzard, without flinching.

You install security lights on your house and garage and leave both

There are 7 empty cars running in the parking lot at Mill's Fleet Farm at any given time. (SO TRUE! Who wants to get into a cold car?)

You design your kid's Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit.

Driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled with snow.

You know how to polka.

Down South to you means Iowa.

A brat is something you eat.

What a great email that was sent to me today but it made me miss good ole MN no matter how cold it is! Thanks Blake and Tyler for passing this on!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Jade Market

Isabella and I ventured out again with Cindy, Lillian and Cindy's friend from the states. Today we hit the Jade Market which mostly sells jewelry but there are also some statues, chess sets, etc made out of stones and nuts... yes nuts. I definitely felt like I was in mainland China at this market. You were expected to barter and if you decided you didn't want something the sellers would continue to lower the price until you felt guilty and bought something. I'm not a big fan of bartering (although I do love good deals) because I never know what is reasonable and I feel that some tourists take advantage. But it was amazing to see all the handmade jewelry and some being made right in front of your eyes. In fact, I took advantage of having something made to your size and bought both Isabella and I matching pearl (and they were real... what a nice little treat) bracelets and I got them for less than $5 US dollars!

It was good to get out but I struggled with the language barrier today. I ran into several situations where playing charades just didn't cut it and I felt terrible that I couldn't communicate. People are drawn to Isabella (mainly because of her blue eyes but also because she's white) which could lead to some great conversations... if only I knew how to speak Cantonese. I think this was a good little push for me to learn at least some basic phrases. I posted yesterday that Isabella will be bi-lingual living here but she'll probably struggle at first if we can't teach her the basics. So along with saying and signing 'Hello' and 'Thank You', I'll also be teaching her 'dzou san' and 'm goi.'

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


I've been wondering for some time now why my transition to HK has been difficult and why it's been so hard to be away from my family when I should be used to it. Since college, I've always lived a good distance away from them and never have I missed them as much as I do now. The reason finally hit me today as I met my friend Cindy and we discussed some of the trials we are going through.

I realized that MN was easier on me because we had a solid church family. There were ladies that played the role of aunt, grandma, sister and even mom. I had uncles, grandpas, brothers, and dads. I even had nieces and nephews. We were included in family events... birthday parties, Thanksgiving meals and 4th of July BBQ's. Although I missed my immediate family, I had extended ones that helped fill that void. It's different here in HK. I'm sure a lot of that is because we've only been here 5 months but I also suspect it also has to do with the culture and we may never have that same kind of family. That's okay and I need to come to grip with that reality but it makes being away from our family harder. I am thankful that God showed me this today because now I can begin to take charge of those feelings and move on.

As Cindy and I talked, she brought up a great question. She asked me, "What do you think will happen when you go home in Feb? Will you desire to move back to the states or will you miss HK and consider it home?" I didn't have an answer for her but as I thought about it I do have a hunch that I will look forward to returning home to HK. Yes, I will miss my family and friends. Yes, I will miss the conveniences of the states. But I know this is where God has called us and what a great opportunity it is.

On the ferry ride home, I thought about why I have a hard time dealing with Isabella not being around her grandparents/aunts/uncles/cousins and as I began to list the negatives.. I stopped and considered the positives and got excited. Isabella will be bi-lingual, she will understand a variety of cultures, be able to see the world, and not have to fear (for the most part) random acts of violence. What's more important to me than her spending time with family is that she learns to love and follow God. So to return home at this point in time would be disobeying God and that's not the example I want to set.

PTL that God speaks to us and shows us areas in our lives that need growth.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Fun tidbits about Hong Kong

"A couple are debating whether computers are male or female. 'Definitely female,' said the husband. 'You spend half of your salary on accessories for them and even the smallest mistakes are stored in their long-term memory for use at a later date.' 'No,' said his wife. 'They're male. To get their attention you have to turn them on and as soon as you commit to one, you realise you could have got a much better model if only you'd waited a little longer." ~Gordon Rennie

Magazines are incredibly expensive here in HK so it's a special treat when we allow ourselves to buy one. Today was one of those days and unfortunately the selection wasn't very good. But I picked up a Reader's Digest (the Asian version) because I love the section 'Laughter, The Best Medicine' and this is where this story came from. Computers have become such a part of our lives living overseas that I felt this story suited us.

On our way to Tsim Sha Tsui (aka TST) the bus passed the Cultural Center and low and behold... there were two brides/grooms and their families having their pictures taken. We see this on a regular basis and it's usually during the week, in the middle of the day. When we first saw this, it struck us as odd. We're so used to the typical Friday night or Saturday wedding that it seemed very abnormal to get married mid-week. What struck us as even more unusual was when we found out what really was going on. In HK, Brides/Grooms will essentially register with a photographer and have their pictures taken in several different dresses/tuxes before the wedding. Everyone goes all out dressing as they would for the actual wedding and they go all over HK to have these pictures taken. We've even seen some pictures being taken in front of our complex. We're not really sure why they do this but were told it's the HK way. Just one more cultural difference to understand in order to better serve our people.

Mike just passed this web-site along and I must share.... {You'll have to cut and paste this long web address} http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://bigwhiteguy.com/images/sides/long.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.bigwhiteguy.com/dishes/long.php&h=150&w=200&sz=23&tbnid=uHJuVu-xE6oJ:&tbnh=74&tbnw=99&hl=en&start=9&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dhong%2Bkong%2Bstreets%26svnum%3D10%26hl%3Den%26lr%3D%26client%3Dsafari%26rls%3Den%26sa%3DN

It's a man's list of "You've been in HK too long when..." If it doesn't work, do a google images search for Hong Kong streets and look for the web-site in the first page that comes up. This will give you a funny idea of some of the things that go on here in HK. My giggles erupted when I read 'You let the bags that you're carrying slam into the legs of passers-by rather than tuck them in close behind you to prevent them from swinging.' Not only have I done that, I also tend to bump into people with our stroller. What's funny is that most people don't even notice... it's just an unavoidable inconvenience.

I love bowl games!

I can't believe it.... WVU finally won a bowl game and to win they beat Georgia! How awesome is that!!!! And what's even cooler is that I got to watch the game! GO WVU.....

My first two years of college were at WVU and I was a proud member of 'The Pride of West Virginia' (marching band.) It was always fun to attend the bowl game but we always left disappointed. Not this year! It was so much fun to watch them take the lead so quickly and hang onto it.

What a treat for me!

Monday, January 02, 2006

No such thing as 'slow'

I often find our days crowded with 'busy-ness' and not much time to enjoy each other so I'm always appreciative of days like today which are uneventful. We considered going out but as we watched the news we were thankful we didn't. Today was like Black Friday in the states where everyone is out and about and in HK it's a million times worse. That has been a HUGE adjustment for me... the amount of people in such a small place. I have to be so careful with my attitude because it's the HK way to push people out of the way and I can easily see myself giving someone a nudge (ok... so maybe that's an understatement) if I'm on a mission.

And it's times like this where I see the 'lostness' of the people. Many are focused on their careers and material items and have 'no time' for God. We even see that in our students as they focus so much on excelling in school (which by the way, I don't think is a bad thing) that God is always put on the back burner (the bad thing). Here people will say that God is important to them but in reality He's only important to them when it's convenient. I will always quote Mike... "God shouldn't be our #1 priority, He should be our ONLY priority and everything else should filter through Him." And no, I'm not perfect at this either but it just breaks my heart to listen to people talk about their relationship with God and realize how much they are missing out on a deeper, meaningful relationship with Christ because of 'busy-ness.' I don't think the word 'slow' exsits here unless you are walking in front of me on the tiniest of streets when I can't pass by. LOL If you are reading this, I would ask that you pray for the people of Hong Kong right now. It only takes a second. We're living in a culture that doesn't see the need for God because most people are wealthy and have not only what they need but want. But in reality, they are missing the ONLY thing they need... our Precious Savior.

On another note... I was so excited to begin my marathon training today. I'm following a program written by Hal Higdon and today I ran three miles. I didn't reach the goal time I set for myself but considering I haven't run in a long time, I was pleased. I was so worried today about my ability to accomplish this task but was encouraged today as I borrowed Mike's iPod and sprinted to Casting Crowns, Smalltown Poets, and Dave Matthews. I think I will cherish these running times because I can be lifted by good music and stretched by sermons. God really is in the 'little' things.

One final note... I posted another of my scrapbook pages and forced myself to really focus on the good things here in HK. It may be hard to read but the journaling reads: "With it's blue skies and mountainous backgrounds, you would be amazed at the beauty of Hong Kong despite the concrete walls. Amidst the concrete you will find pockets of the most gorgeous sites. Parks landscaped in alluring plants and flowers, unblemished beaches, captivating lights that line the streets at night, a diversity of people that's unimagineable. You see both old and new Hong Kong wherever you look; the history is unparalleled.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Have you ever...

"Have you ever had a dream that you were going to the bathroom and you wake up to find that you've peed the bed?" That was the topic of conversation between Mike, three of our boys, and I over lunch at McDonalds. I almost peed myself then because the stories they shared were just too funny. This lunch was such a blessing because it made me feel at 'home' with our kids. In MN, we had some great conversations such as this one and I was so worried that our students here would be so different that it would be hard to communicate with them. This conversation proved me wrong. RJ is Filipino, Brett is Canadian, and Adrian is Chinese yet we chatted as any teenagers would.

Brett (in the picture below) followed us to our flat where he and Mike played Xbox for awhile and it was during this time that I saw another blessing. I was so disappointed to leave MN because I was afraid Isabella would miss out on the love I knew our MN kids would give her. Again, I was proved wrong when RJ and Brett took time to play and talk to her. It was so sweet to watch these two High School boys loving on our daughter and she was just eating it up.

I saw a connection today that gives me great hope. God is at work and though it seems slow to us... His timing is perfect. I'm so excited to see more relationships develop like these two have as our Friday night ministries begin in just a few weeks.