Every few weeks I write an update, for those who like to stay in touch!
Our 2016 Blog ⇔ (Clicking on photos reveals the entire caption and often makes pictures bigger)
July-Dec (click here for Jan-Jun 2016)
Dec 21, 2016
Here are a few photos of December fun, as 2016 comes to a close.
What is Christmas without music? We really enjoyed this “carol singing” service at St Andrews Church–one of our favorite churches here in HK.
CCHK loves to spread Christmas cheer with the children whose parents work with our organization in China. It’s a lot of fun to help them prepare gift boxes for mailing!
“Tina” (one of Michael’s former students) and friends showed us around “Canton” for two wonderful days. We love having former students all over China!
Michael and Vivian by the Pearl River in Guangzhou. This was Vivian’s first trip to “Canton” (Michael’s fourth).
Nov 18, 2016
Last weekend, Vivian and I were in Xi’an for some important meetings. From 2002-2005, I taught at NPU, China’s leading aerospace engineering university, and was never treated any better by the staff and administration of any university. We also love learning about China’s history, so Xi’an is an awesome place–it was China’s capital for much of the country’s 5000-year history. The famous terra-cotta warriors are there, unearthed in the 1960s after almost two millennia in underground silence. I’ve been out to see them four times, and it is truly an awe-inspiring sight–well worthy of its reputation as a top tourist attraction. I think we could have happily lived and worked in Xi’an “forever” had it not been for the terrible pollution. All three of us (our son was young at the time) coughed all winter, and when I ended up in the hospital with pneumonia the doctors advised me to find a different place to live (saying I was allergic to something in the city’s thick air). We moved to Kunming, which is another wonderful city, but that’s another story! I’ll tell the rest of the weekend’s story in pictures. (To see some older photos, click here.)
Our first stop this trip was to visit the “new campus” of NPU (it was under construction when I worked there). We really enjoyed seeing the beautiful fall leaves (which we don’t have in Hong Kong). The campus is at the edge of the city near the beautiful mountains, which unfortunately give the pollution no route of escape! But for our first two days, the air was clear and the sky was blue.
Friday evening and Saturday were filled with meetings, as expat professionals who are connected to the company I work for gathered from all over China. We meet twice a year as an advisory panel to discuss key issues.
On Friday, my former boss hosted a banquet in our honor. What a delight to be with former colleagues, my former TA (now teaching at the university), and a former student who is also now teaching there. In the afternoon, we had an equally delightful meeting with university officials, who said they are very satisfied with the teachers our company has recommended over the years, asking us to help them find more!
On Sunday, we met with some of our oldest friends in China. We met Mr Liang in 2000, just weeks after we moved to China, and we have been good friends ever since. His wife and son joined the reunion, treating us to a delicious dinner in this Tang-dynasty style restaurant near the city wall (you can see one of the towers in the background).
Monday was a “day off,” so Vivian and I went to see some of the local sights. We were enamored with this Chinese “lion” and the Tang-dynasty style hotel behind it. The pictures turned out pretty well, though you can see that the air isn’t as clear as it was when I visited the “new campus”.
In the center of Xi’an, you’ll find the ancient drum and bell towers. Behind them is a historic district popular with tourists, so we wandered there for a few hours, buying Christmas gifts and reliving memories of our pleasant years in the city.
We stayed with friends, and from their balcony you can see the “air” that so damaged our health years ago. People say the air is “much better” than it was a dozen years ago, but I was told that it is still rare to see “clear” days like the one on the left.
Oct 30, 2016
This week, we have been enjoying guest speaker Ron Ching, invited by the company I work for to bless Hong Kong with his humor and experience.
Ron spent Tuesday, plus parts of Thursday and Friday, with my staff, teaching us about the Qualities/Quotients that can help us serve our customers and each other better.
At other times, he has given multi-media presentations to large and small groups in Hong Kong. In these photos, he is sharing about his passion for being a blessing to our world’s growing number of senior citizens.
For our staff, Ron talked about “Minding your Quotients.” A “Quotient” is a measure; and Ron said it is very subjective, depending on who is measuring what. Here we were looking at “measuring” our company and ourselves (as staff, in relation to JHF). Here’s a list of some of them:
IQ: Intelligence Quotient
EQ: Emotional Q
DQ: Dream Q (dreams, goals)
PQ: Passion Q (what excites us)
COQ: Courage Q (in the face of opposition)
LQ: Love Quotient
FQ: Failure Q (what did we learn in failure that can help us succeed)
CRQ: Creativity Q (God is creative, and we are made in His image)
TQ: Team Q (an athletic team pulls together; they feel like they are in it together)
RQ: Recognition (recognition/praise is important to all; one of a baby’s first skills)
HQ: Health (are we, is the company, healthy?)
PQ: Personal Q (how do you “measure up” as single, married, adult child, parent…)
SQ: Success (individually and as an organization)
I have some notes from our sessions, so if you want to know more about these, let me know.
Oct 20, 2016
Super Typhoon Haima passed through Hong Kong yesterday, closing our office. That has given me a little time to post photos from our work-related trip to Xinjiang last weekend.
Next week, our company will have a guest speaker here in HK. Ron Ching will help us with staff training, and will also speak on several occasions (a school, small groups, a community night, etc.). We are looking forward to a busy week, being taught by Ron and proving opportunities for him to be a blessing to many people in Hong Kong.
Our first stop was the Bazaar in Urumqi. We did our part to support the local economy by buying a few gifts! We were amazed at how much these “pretty things” looked like the souvenirs we saw in Turkey a few years ago.
Also at the Bazaar, I couldn’t resist the chance to hold this large bird. I’m no expert, but I think it is a falcon. Once I got my hand in the glove, the bird’s owner put his hat on my head (maybe to ease the bird’s tension? or maybe just so I look more cool!).
The Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region is home to a number of China’s ethnic minorities, including many Muslims (like the Uygurs). I liked this poster, showing some of the groups. On the left, you see a panel in a very nice museum, talking about a group of Chinese who were sent to the area before the time of America’s revolution. Like them, we have “adopted” our new home, without forgetting our old homeland.
I snapped this next to our hotel because I wanted an example of the bi-lingual script you see everywhere. (I added the English translation in the photo.) There were times when the locals could not speak to us in Mandarin (Chinese), but we have the same trouble in Hong Kong too! The barbed wire and other security measures were also everywhere. We even had to pass through a metal detector to enter the Bazaar, a mall, and our hotel lobby.
Signs of patriotism were also everywhere. Notice all the Chinese flags to the right. You can also see the trilingual street signs.
But for the most part, Urumqi looked like any other large Chinese city, with new, tall buildings pushing back the sky, accompanied by signs of growth and construction.
Finally, we really enjoyed the food–when we could convince the sellers NOT to put hot spices on everything! The flat bread (馕 nang) and lamb kabobs were delicious! It was a great trip, supporting associates who work in the region. We look forward to our NEXT visit!
Last week, I found some “basic writing” resources that begged to be put into my other website: EFLsuccess.com. You can click to read CS Lewis’ basic writing advice, and a new section (at the bottom of the page) on how to name computer filenames.
Sep 22, 2016
Today, we fly back to HK. We’ve had a wonderful three weeks. People have been extremely helpful, and it has been wonderful to connect a face and personality to the partners we previously knew so little about. The month ahead is packed, so I’m afraid I may never find time to post more photos online. But we’d be happy to give you details over a cup of tea sometime! I’ve got a flight to catch!
“The Warrior” was the first ship built with an iron hull. We had a wonderful day visiting the historic Portsmouth Dockyards.
The real purpose of this trip was to join important meetings, like this one in the UK. But we certainly also enjoyed the things we did between meetings!
At this conference, we challenged participants to a “chopsticks race” to win prizes; we were also looking for teachers to come join us in China!
China is such an important part of the world, that many people are interested in our lectures.
JHF in HK is grateful for the support of our independent partners in other countries.
Vivian took more photos than I did, but once in a while she’d stand still. The sign (left) indicates that it’s the place in Britain where her father served during WW2.
Vivian started this meeting at a Germany university by praying for our friends in China, who were (at that moment) suffering from a big typhoon!
This view is from a university campus in Germany. With all this beauty to look at, how can anyone study?
We spent a few nights in Crecy la Chapelle, not far from Paris.
Beautiful Provins, France
Provins, a UNESCO-listed medieval village in France, offered the chance to see a castle, cathedral, and other wonders.
If you want to see more pictures, Vivian has posted a few things here:
http://chinadollphotos.weebly.com/ and here:
Sep 7, 2016
In between meetings, we are getting to see some of the UK. I’ve long been blessed by the writings of CS Lewis, including the beloved children’s stories called “The Chronicles of Narnia” (from which several films have been made, including “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.”) So we were very happy to get to visit Oxford with our JHF hosts.
In the 1630s, barely a decade after the Pilgrims arrived in Plymouth MA, Vivian’s relatives left Wherwell England for “the new world.” Wouldn’t this picture make a great puzzle!?
Safely arrived London Heathrow Aug 29. It was about 7 hours from HK to Qutar, 5 hours there, another hour due to someone’s medical emergency, then about 8 hours to London.
On Aug 30, Vivian found the name of a distant relative (Osgood family) in the Wherwell Church registry.
These small country churches are beautiful inside and out. If you ever visit Europe, be sure to visit some! You’ll usually find the doors open.
This beautiful etched-glass window was created to celebrate the second millennium after Jesus’ birth (AD 2000).
Sept 1: toured the home of one of our favorite authors: CS Lewis. The place is called “The Kilns”, near Oxford.
Posing at the end of the Kilns tour in front of Warnie’s typewriter–used for most of Lewis’ correspondence. With us: our hosts and partners at JHF, the Wernhams. You can’t help but look longingly for a magical wardrobe in this house: this small one was in the bedroom of CS’s brother Warnie.
Near the Kilns was Holy Trinity church, where Lewis was active, and where he was buried.
This is the only “Narnia” church window I’ve ever seen, but it was wonderfully appropriate next to the pew in which Lewis so often worshipped.
I couldn’t resist the urge to sit in the seat once occupied regularly by this most influential of 20th Century Christian authors.
CS Lewis owned 4 acres of land around “The Kilns,” including a small lake. It is now a Nature Reserve.
After our tour of the Kilns, we traveled into Oxford, to find the Eagle and Child, where Lewis, Tolkien and other influential writers met weekly to discuss their writings.
Here we are with the Wernhams inside the pub, affectionately known by locals as “the Bird and Baby.” We enjoyed a cup of tea and “chips” in the very room where these literary greats once met, as memorialized by many photos and memorabilia on the walls.
Sept 2: “take a ride on the Reading” (well, actually, TO Reading England, not the US “Reading” named for it, and the subject of the famous opportunity card in Monopoly). We spent a wonderful day with former classmates (Xiamen Univ, 1980s).
You can see old photos of us with our “Reading” friends Don and Bridget on my old website: www.krigline.com/xm_reunion.htm.
We are currently representing JHF at a conference for college students, trying to recruit some of them to join us in China once they graduate! We have had many interesting conversations, which we trust will continue for two more days before heading back to Oxford for more official JHF meetings.
Aug 29, 2016
Safely arrived in the UK. Watch for more later.
Aug 27, 2016
A few days ago, we went to see the “new” version of the film “Ben Hur.” Actually, this is the third major film about what was reportedly the most-read novel of the 1800s. The first version was a silent film in the early 1900s, which flowed from the popular stage version of the story. The 1959 film was a block-buster, winning 11 Oscars; as a percentage of the total available in a year, no film as ever won more.
If you aren’t familiar with the 1959 version, the new film could stand on it’s own because of the gripping story. Go see it! But if you are as old as I am, you’ll probably like the old movie better. (You can see a study guide for the old film on my other website: eflsuccess.com/ben-hur/.) Some of my favorite characters were missing, and I think the new producer sacrificed a lot to make the film a reasonable length (the 1959 version was 3.5 hours long, and I wondered what they would cut!).
Nonetheless, it was a nice “date,” and we were happy to support the retelling of this remarkable story. If it gets people to read the book and consider the important themes of power, purpose, forgiveness and faithfulness, then it was worth making!
For the next three weeks, Vivian and I will be in the UK and Europe on JHF business. We are looking forward to spending time with our partners, and trying to recruit professionals to join us, serving the people of China.
July 24, 2016
Arrived in Dali on Friday, for a week helping a friend with summer English programs. Today’s high was 65 F (18 C), which feels awesome after weeks of Hong Kong’s heat (approaching 100/38 in the heat index).
I’m staying at a hotel near the university and Brian’s home. Here’s a view from the balcony.
I’ve decided to put most of my Dali photos on a separate “photo album” page. But below I’ve added some of the other interesting parts of this trip. Here’s a few photos, but look for more to come.
Old friends united… and Brian’s cute cat.
Had a great time Saturday evening with new friends at Dali U, including four med students from India. You can find a few photos of campus on the Dali page.
We spent one day driving to and from Eryuan County to teach at a school in the countryside. Yunnan has LOTS of mountains, and thus lots of tunnels!
One of Brian’s former students is helping at this school for the summer. She invited us to come. In our short visit, we taught three classes for different ages.
One of the classes posed for this picture. Everyone seemed grateful that “the foreigners” came all the way out there to give these young people the rare chance to interact with a native speaker.
Next, Brian and I were off to Qu Xiong, to see another one of his former students. This young lady and her husband were the perfect hosts, showing us the sights, and introducing us to one of Yunnan’s famous minority festivals. While we were there, we also got to spend time with another of Brian’s former students (who I also met in Xiamen), along with her friends–all of whom are new teachers! It was great to be with them, encouraging them as they begin their important career.
The Monkey King is a national folk hero (the ‘pig man’ is one of his sidekicks).
In addition to a fire-filled evening celebration, we got to see the city of Qu Xiong. It has about a million people, including suburbs (a “small” city in China).
If you visit Qu Xiong, be sure to check out Awake Coffee. We enjoyed talking to the owner, and our local friend said it was the best coffee he’d ever tasted. AND we introduced him and his wife to “Foosball”–they had a blast!
Brian’s student is the short one, who is always full of energy. I’m sure she’ll make a great teacher! It was a lot of fun being with these folks.
The last photo shows me introducing them to my other website: EFLsuccess.com.
Vivian flew to Kunming to join me during the second weekend. We got back to Hong Kong just before they closed the airport due to Typhoon Nida.
We lived in Kunming from 2005 to 2010, mostly teaching at Kunming Medical University. We were delighted that these busy doctors (and other friends) took time to visit with their old teacher!
We also saw many “western” friends, and even got to enjoy a picnic at this lovely park in Kunming.
About two hours after my flight landed in Hong Kong, they closed the airport for about 24 hours, due to Typhoon Nida. I took the “left” photo out our apartment window early the next morning. By late morning, the rain had passed, so I walked to work. Notice the “taped up” windows, as well as all these parked taxis (very unusual to see a taxi parked here!).
July 11, 2016
Hong Kong’s heat limits visits from friends and keeps people indoors in mid-summer, but it didn’t keep these old friends from paying a visit from New Zealand. Michael first met Peter in 1984, and when we joined JHF in 2000 he was serving in the leadership position I now hold. I still occasionally ask for work-related advice by email, and we are always grateful for the encouragement we receive from Peter and Elizabeth. The other photos relate to our church in Hong Kong, where I sometimes lead in the singing or serve in other ways. Next week, we will seek to escape the heat for a few days in Dali and Kunming–you can watch for photos upon our return.
Here’s a nice photo of us with Peter and Elizabeth; we also got to take them out to lunch with our staff and some of their old friends.
Our church participated in a community-fun-day in late June, offering games for kids, free facials for ladies, and more. If you can’t read the weather report, it says “feels like 38” (degrees C), which is over 100 F! It was even hotter mid-day!
In July, Michael’s free EFL class at RiverGrace (our church) ended. The students said they enjoyed it, so we may offer another class in the fall.
Michael and friends lead singing in early July; we also snapped this nice family photo at our church.
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