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June 21, 2016
Vivian and I had a simply delightful weekend in Xiamen, celebrating with my former students at Xiamen University. I had taught them as freshmen, and now they are heading out into the world to work or continue their studies. We were very honored that they wanted us to be there, and many made a special effort to give us a piece of their last days at the university, which again was very moving. Let me tell the story in pictures…
Thousands of graduating students filled the auditorium in random order, so they “walked” across the stage over a 1.5-hour period; this makes the above photo remarkable because it means that about 30 former students went out of their way to find Vivian and I after the ceremony, just to gather for this photo. What a moment! We are very proud of their achievement, and hope that many will stay in touch.
Although the auditorium was packed, my “class monitor” managed to get Vivian and I into the building, to sit in the teacher section. The 3-hour ceremony started with speeches. At one point, students turned and bowed to honor their teachers and parents (I thought that was very moving). Then about 12 students at a time crossed the stage to get a diploma and “move the tassel.” Students’ names scrolled down screens beside the stage (not tied to what was happening on stage, since students “walked” in no particular order). Unlike US graduations, no names were read (and no one in the crowd cheered for any individual). But eventually, everyone got across the stage — moving directly outside to wait for classmates and visitors in the scorching Xiamen summer heat! One of the speakers had said that this was the first graduation since air conditioners had been installed in the building–and we were all VERY grateful as the temperature outside was in the upper 90s (upper 30s)!
I just noticed that I’ve got photos of many of these students on my old website, with some of the “Happiness” poems they wrote. Take a look!
You can also find a number of photos of Xiamen University (and the city) on our old website (http://www.krigline.com/xiamen_u.htm), as well as on its “wallpaper” page (http://www.krigline.com/wallpaper.htm).
June 2, 2016
I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since I’ve posted an update! Where did May go? A quick look at my calendar since May 1 shows 22 meetings (seeking to broaden my network of associates and friends in Hong Kong), plus two conferences, three speaking engagements, a dental checkup (no cavities), plus the five free English classes I taught and one singing session I led at our church–and all that without leaving Hong Kong. No wonder I’m tired!
The month also brought the bitter-sweet news that Vivian’s beloved Uncle Joe departed this life after several years of deteriorating health. If you are not a Christian, perhaps you can’t understand how someone’s death can be “bitter-sweet,” but one of the biggest benefits of our faith is the ability to face death with joy instead of fear. Jesus’ resurrection (Easter) proved that there IS life after death, and He promised that those who believe in Him will be with Him forever. Since “forever” is clearly far more important than 50-90 years on earth, this truth inspires people like Uncle Joe to invest his life caring for disadvantaged children and finding many other ways to bless those around him. One of the last things he talked about was a vision of seeing Jesus in heaven, ready to welcome him home. Yes, we’ll miss him. He was a dear man. But we also know we shall see him again, because Jesus promised that we would!
Yesterday marked nine months of service in our not-quite-as-new-anymore jobs in Hong Kong. We’ve learned a lot, and accomplished some good things, but there’s always so much more to do! I usually feel like we’ve hardly begun. But to sort-of celebrate this milestone, Vivian and I took the afternoon off today for a “date” to see the new “Jungle Book” movie, at a theater right around the corner from our home in Mongkok. After a long but very pleasant business lunch, we caught the 5 pm 2D show–in English with Chinese subtitles; it cost us $160HK at the door (about $21US), but would have been more online.
The cartoon version has been one of my all-time favorite movies since “we kids” saw it upon first release in 1967, so I was a little afraid that Disney would “ruin” it with a remake, but the new version was quite good! The CG animation was simply remarkable, the new storyline was good, the soundtrack was very nice, and they even kept two of the cherished songs. The original was more “fun” and had awesome jazz music. The 2016 version might be too scary for small children (it is rated PG, not G), but by around age 8 they should be able to handle it–if parents are willing to “debrief” about what happened to Mowgli’s father and the wolf-pack leader, and deal with other dark elements. Actually, it gives parents and children lots to talk about! Critical reviews seem to agree that this is worth going to see. And if you haven’t seen the old cartoon for a while…what can I say, it is still one of my all-time favorite movies! You can see my “EFL Movie Study Guide” for the original cartoon at http://www.krigline.com/junglebook.htm
Looking ahead, it looks like Vivian and I will get to watch my former students graduate from Xiamen University on June 17 & 18. If you are in Xiamen, and would like to see us on this quick visit, please contact me (see the “About Us” page).
Here are a few more photos to take a look at:
May 7, 2016
Last Sunday we had the privilege of talking about our work at one of our favorite churches in HK: St Andrews. We were just a tiny part of the program, but people were attentive and interested, and we spoke to many after the services. Vicar Alex McCoy gave a very inspirational speech called “The First Wedding,” which you can hear online. We shared seven times that day, including two opportunities to talk to teenagers. It was a wonderful day!
The week was busy as usual, but got complicated when Vivian lost her voice Tuesday. On Friday, we visited the Peace Clinic–where the staff has always treated us very well. The doctor said Vivian has laryngitis (which neither of us have encountered before), complicated by a bad cough. He prescribed several medications, and said that the main thing she needs is rest.
Lately, we’ve been reminded often that you can’t take your health for granted, but it is always difficult to balance “personal needs” with all of the important things that also demand time and attention. I recently heard of an occasion when the famous artist Michelangelo was pressing himself to finish a work on deadline; someone warned him: “This may cost your life.” He replied: “What else is life for?” (I would have said the same thing!) It’s always tempting to swing to one side or the other in such questions. In the modern West, many people put pleasure and recreation above all other things; in Hong Kong, “work” is often the undisputed top priority.
J Oswald Sanders said, speaking about those called to be leaders, that to claim that one doesn’t have enough time or is too busy is the sign of a “small minded, empty and inefficient” person who is self-deceived. The key, then, must be in understanding God’s will and priorities, and being diligent to keep other things from distracting us. Sanders says: “Each of us has the time to do the whole will of God for our lives.”
April 29, 2016
Knowing that we’ve got “work duties” this Saturday and Sunday, and after several long days at the office, Vivian and I decided to take part of today off to get some exercise on nearby Lamma Island (one of HK’s many islands). First, we discovered that the ferry schedules posted online are useless; even the schedule posted at the dock changed while we were there–as they canceled the 12:30 return trip. Unfortunately, a dragon and lion also held us up on the return to the dock (see details on our Hong Kong page), or we would have made the noon sailing. But in between arrival and departure, we walked to a beach and were later reminded of muscles we don’t use much anymore; we saw more “nature” than we normally see in Mongkok, too, though most of the “walk” wound through a village obviously popular with those who like over-priced meals. Back in Central HK, we treated ourselves to real British “fish and chips” before returning to Mongkok. (Again, you can see more photos, and get more of the story in captions, on our Hong Kong page.)
April 17, 2016
After enjoying a memorable Resurrection Day (Easter) at the end of March with our new church in HK, April has been filled with valuable meetings, as we get to know more and more people in Hong Kong. We also spent a delightful afternoon with former students, now nearing the end of their Masters program at a HK University. Friends from Xiamen and other parts of China have also come through HK, and it is always great to stay connected. (Why don’t I normally think of taking photos when we get together?)
Speaking of Xiamen, I’ve just posted a remarkable, encouraging testimony from our former pastor in Xiamen. Gabe is a cancer survivor, which in his case means that doctors offered little or no hope when his cancer appeared in 2010, but he continues his fight today with faith and hope. If you or anyone you know struggles with a serious illness or other grave problems, please take a look at Gabe’s testimony–you will be glad you did!
March 27, 2016
Vivian and I were in China for about a week, and I came back with some sort of flu; that set everything aside! But in moments between chills and fever, I added photos and captions to a special page about Dori’s visit to HK. I’ve also tweaked the website here and there with needed maintenance.
March 18, 2016
Sorry I’ve not gotten around to posting more from Dori’s visit. I normally work until about midnight (last night until 4 am), and still I find it hard to keep up with the needs. Tomorrow, Vivian and I fly to Guangxi province, followed by a flight to Wuhan Monday, to spend time with JHF Associates. We have not been to either worksite, so we are really looking forward to it!
Since Easter is just around the corner, I moved an interesting article to this site from my old website. It includes a great Chinese poem about Easter. Check it out by clicking here.
February 26, 2016
You might not know it by looking at this blog, but Vivian and I spend most of our time in an office, not “out and about.”
Thus, we love every chance we get to be with friends and associates. Feb 25-26 gave us the rare opportunity to be with a relative–Michael’s cousin spent about 26 hours with us, on her way from the Philippines back to the US. We had a simply wonderful time showing her around, and we took dozens of great photos, so I’ve created a separate page–check it out!
February 24, 2016
February 8 was Chinese New Year, which also meant it was time for JHF’s annual conference. We’ve been participating in these conferences since 2000, but it looks a little different after you become the Director! Someone wrote afterward and said that every time she saw Vivian or myself, we seemed to be engaged one way or another. But that’s half the fun! We enjoyed every minute we got to talk with our wonderful Associates, and hopefully something we said encouraged or challenged them in just the right way. I’ll tell the rest of the story in captions…
January 31, 2016
We started 2016 in St Louis, MO, saw friends in two states and ended up in Ohio with Michael’s parents and our son. Andrew is enjoying his job as a Web Designer, and though our time together was too brief, we always enjoy the chance to be together. (Our hope to see Beth and the grandkids again in SC mid-January didn’t work out, so I found a nice photo from last summer to put at the top of our blog this year.)
On Jan 11, after spending the night with Michael’s brother in GA, we flew from Atlanta back to our home in Hong Kong. We had a dizzying yet wonderful time in the US before and after the “western New Year”, and now as January disappears, we are looking forward to our Foundation’s annual conference in Thailand over the upcoming Chinese New Year. It will be my first as the Executive Director, which brings special joys and challenges. As always, there’s too much to do, so let me just get the year started with a few photos…
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