My next move

4 days ago, I heard on local radio a news about how some elderlies in Hong Kong are mis-treated – they were striped to naked and putting on wheelchair to wait up for their shower, in front of other mates at the home. Some people phoned in the program and shared their disheartening experiences how their parents were mistreated such as they see bruises in different parts of their bodies each time they visited them when staff claimed they fell off or things happened accidentally. They said the staff could be peeling oranges immediately after the second they cleaned the elderly in the bathroom without washing their hands. There were just many horrible stories about these paid services but the key thing is – every elderly home in Hong Kong is the SAME and delivering poorly. People don’t have a choice! Our dear elderlies are not given the deserved respect and dignity is completely absent. And our society is ageing – there are more and more elderlies each year whose situations complicate from time to time. There are not much things we can turn these around but to accept them. What is my response towards this news or societal trend?  I tell myself: I am going to open my elderly home which delivers proper service, my brand of elderly home where there would be a better system, better people and most importantly – there is love for the needy ones.  I am thinking to charge a premium for the quality service that it delivers, but could it be an NGO? This I do not know yet.

My life’s first continuous volunteer work started at Mother’s Choice, an NGO for unwanted babies borne by underaged adolescents. I served there for 5 years nursing babies below 6 months old. I had a wonderful time because babies are adorable, cute and simply a joy to spend time with. The reason I left is that there is a long waiting list of volunteers waiting to take care of these babies when the numbers of babies who need the care were actually dwindling. I see no point spending my time ‘fighting’ with other volunteers to just cradle that one baby and when my time could be spent on someone who needs my help more? From then onwards, I steer towards focusing my spare time on the elderly. I did a number of things such as visiting those who live alone in their tiny flat…those who have suicidal tendency or the depressed ones, I spent time with those in nursing homes and lots of them are over a century old. Can you imagine how much they have seen and experienced? And I had the chance to work with the dying ones in Kolkata, India. It’s my goal to diversify my volunteering services so that I can see where my heart falls – over the years, I still choose to reach out to the elderlies.

My current job is a relatively new job (it’s my 7th months now) where I focused on branding restaurants and helping on building new ones. Many people ask me what do I do with this experience, are you gonna open your restaurants? No, it’s a flat no and I wouldn’t want to open restaurants, I just want to learn new things, and I don’t mind to learn more about F&B. Just last week, the project I have worked on for 6 months is eventually conceived. I helped out, with the help of numerous people, opening my life’s first restaurant. It’s a lot of sweat and tears, fun and stress. But finally, I started to see a little bit more about what God has planted in me over these decades. My education, my previous jobs training, my hobbies, my volunteering experiences, my church’s preaching plus my aspirations are ALL starting to connect – dots are connecting!  I want to open elderly homes which just would be operated properly. I have always wanted to see justice at work in my life, in the society and the greater world. 

The desire inside my heart is that I aspire to use my time in a meaningful way – I am reaching a very mature stage of my life now, and just want to make sure I use my time not in leisure and pleasure. I have a huge desire to defend the helpless and I truly believe the weak is strong, the poor is rich. The Vine is teaching us pathways to maturity today, and Pastor Andrew Gardener emphasizes that 6 months down the road, The Vine will equip us with the needed power and strength so we can be the big people God wants us to be. He is confirming my faith exactly this moment and right now. I do not know how I can achieve that, but I just know He has created me and given me talents which I just need to use it. Just go out and use it. Be a doer is my goal for the next 5 years. Act His will and be His light of the world. I could fail but if I don’t step out, my life is wasted. Wasting my life is a disrespect to the Creator, we should be steward of His creation. I want to honour His wonderful creation.

Once again, I do not know what and how to do it, but I know He will guide me. He will lead me through His church, His people my friends, all those whom I come across. I choose Him. I will take care of the orphans, the widows, the weak, the injured, the needy ones.  I am very weak also and lost…but I only know that through reaching out can I find my path. It’s not for self-glory that I do all these, but in His name, in His glory. To my parents, to my siblings, to my best friends, to all those who love me and I love I want to dedicate this flaming urge in my heart.

Quote of the Day
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
James 1:27
I pray to God that I will not be afraid. I will seek Him to do things which so delights Him and the world. Justice we stand, justice we fight and justice we live.

Postscript Quote 
Sure I’m for helping the elderly. I’m going to be old myself someday.
Lillian Gordy Carter 

Social justice starts from you

Justice seems like a huge, high and distant topic. I saw a short film at church today which asks around 20 people what justice means to them. These people came from a diverse background from age, gender and race. They all shared a bits of their thoughts here and there, but it’s really similar of their thinking that justice starts from you. Not just the police, law makers, judges, high court etc. I see justice as treating people fairly. And these weeks our pastors and elders have all been preaching how the Bible speaks prophetic justice and the relationship. Just one simple thing – if you treat others and neighbours like yourself – there would be justice. Why are we facing appalling rent here in Hong Kong? Why is the wealth gap worsening period after period? Not long ago I went to Bangkok, and strolling in the famous Chatuchak Market, numerous amazing hand-made crafts and counterfeit such as sneakers, tees, jeans etc they are just dirt cheap even when you have not started to bargain at all. I told my friend imagine how much the person who made it at the end receive for the amount of time and heart they spent? Maybe US$1 a day, probably less…thinking of that, I couldn’t even move my hand to touch the things in front of me. The more people buying from these sweat shop, the more workers would suffer. And you cannot blame the young girls wanting to sell their body as sex slaves when the earnings are beyond comparison. That is why all these south east asian countries have been exporting their women to be helpers of the more affluent countries. I attended an Intellectual Property course on trademark, and this subject is neglected in Asia and brands simply find it a super dilemma to attend design fairs in China, coz once they exhibit their latest designs, the next second you will see people copying your work 100% and mass produced and selling like hotcakes on Taobao. If you were a designer, how do you feel when your own designs are being copied and selling at super low rate and you are not even getting a commission. On a day to day basis, there are countless ways we can sustain justice: pay people fairly and do not haggle for discount; respect people like even your waiters and waitress or guard and be polite and smile at them! Compliment people when you feel they are delivering their jobs and duties, say thanks! These are just extremely easy things to do to those around you, and they will come back to you ultimately. Please keep justice in your hearts and live up these values fairly to other people, and not just yourself or those you love.

Quote of the Day
Praise be to the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the Lord’s eternal love for Israel, he has made you king to maintain justice and righteousness
1 Kings 10:9
I pray to God that we will live His values in us every single day, and not just reading them from the Bible, but truly living them.

Postscript Quote 
In matters of truth and justice, there is no difference between large and small problems, for issues concerning the treatment of people are all the same.
Albert Einstein

Pray for Japan and ourselves

I was reading Monocle February issue just now and saw this passage about BEAMS, the infamous fashion brand in Japan which started off as just one shop in Harajuku in 1990, and now expanded to having 151 outlets throughout Japan achieving sales of 446 million Euro last year. One thing struck me about how they train their staff is that they have two fundamentals: bowing and wrapping. Bowing is the way they bow at their customers who could be you and me, at a degree from 15 degrees, 30 degrees to 45 degrees – the politest of ALL. When I read about that…I was like…WOW. I have been to Japan countless times, but reading this – knowing how I have been treated is deeply considered as a rule, in a militant way, is mind-blowing to me. One thing so well put is quoted by Kentaro Harada, BEAM’s HR – he said these etiquette should be internalized and be seen completely natural in any situation. This is so true. Something you want people to feel and take as positive attribute – must be genuine and natural. And it’s only something internalized that can create that effect. Japan is so super good at this, all the good things you see in them – being polite, calm, humble, considerate, refined…etc. they have those in their hearts. I was watching the hostage news captured by the IS people…I feel deeply deeply sad and troubled when I see the Japanese are the victim (sorry I don’t mean I am okay when I see the American or other people are held as hostages…don’t get me wrong). When one of the hostage’s mom wept on the news kept on ap0logizing to the public of what the trouble their family have brought to Japan and the public, I couldn’t stop feeling the pain inside and ask why they have to be apologetic??? Why?? It’s NOT their fault…but again – the value of being humble and considerate is rooted in their hearts and minds. Values have to be internalized so that they can appear naturalized. What God teaches us must be internalized and not be used to be something like a costume to wear in front of certain people and we take off once we get home. Lord help the hostages in Japan.

Quote of the Day
And may your hearts be fully committed to the Lord our God, to live by his decrees and obey his commands, as at this time.
1 Kings 8:61
I pray to God that I will remember what all my pastors, churches, Bible have taught me, and I live them and internalized them, making each and every value as natural as I was born and as God has created.

Postscript Quote 
True character arises from a deeper well than religion. It is the internalization of moral principles of a society, augmented by those tenets personally chosen by the individual, strong enough to endure through trials of solitude and adversity. The principles are fitted together into what we call integrity, literally the integrated self, wherein personal decisions feel good and true. Character is in turn the enduring source of virtue. It stands by itself and excites admiration in others.   
Edward O Wilson

What does Winter Solstice mean to you?

I just tugged my mom to bed…the feeling is pretty amazing! If you like to tug a kid to bed, I can guarantee the sense of achievement is 100 times more! Because this person you just speak with, can tell you a lot of things you don’t really expect to hear at a night time after your long day of work from ‘career’ to home, after you took care of lots of house-work etc. I have to be honest – we have a helper and I was exempted of tremendous tasks. But my patience and EQ is poor – especially with closed ones like family etc. This is something my sister told me since I was really small, I just couldn’t help it (excuse!!!) But what I saw just now, I feel pretty good about it – spending decent amount of time with mom and chatting with her – the differentiating factor is the heart. This is totally not a ‘self-glorifying’ moment that I am sharing this to make you look at me differently, if I can – either you have not seen a lot or you are easily deceived – I just feel good to be really talking and looking at my mom as if she is my 1 month old child, with love – heart – patience – admiration. A lot of times, we treat our closed ones with ‘love’ but not with truly appreciating heart or mindset, we think they don’t know anything or we just know more than they do. So we raise our voice, or we speak with a straight-face, or unapproachable look! Why? Coz they are closed and someone who will never leave you, and you are better! It’s nearly crazy….you do this to someone you would spend nearly a life-time with, but spending super patience with someone you never know how long you would be with – it’s not about calculation and return. This is not the point, my point is – be kind with everyone, and especially with your closed ones and family. It’s Winter Solstice, make them warm. God loves to know that you warm someone up, like He does.

Quote of the Day
Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.”
Hosea 6:3
I pray to God that I understand how to truly love others, with the heart to be as open, equal and kind as possible.

Postscript Quote 
When you love what you have, you have everything you need.  

My toughest day in Kolkata

Today is probably the toughest day I had in Kolkata in these 3 years because my best friend Stephania is ill and couldn’t go to Shanti Dan at Mother’s House with me. But it’s my last morning there before I return to Hong Kong, so I decided to go alone joining other volunteers. Unfortunately there are not many of them today because some large groups left and some are sick. So The few of us from Belgium, America and Mexico have to work extra hard so all the laundry are washed, hung dried under the sun, fed the children, bring these girls to bathroom, change their clothes etc. but they are mentally ill and physically disabled, working with them is a lot of work. Nearly a battle. One moment you thought you got them up to bed with clean clothes and sleep peacefully, the next moment you pass by them they wet the whole bed from undies to pyjamas to bed sheet, just everything and you will repeat the whole process all over again. And there are like over 50 girls there…. Due to few number of volunteers, we get off our shift quite late and I was really exhausted but that brings me to another issue. How to get back to my hotel? My sense of direction is worse than poor. So I followed the others hoping they would take off close to where I live…but the bus is super crowded and much much worse than HK’s MTR at peak hours. We barely can stand inside the bus and I lost my volunteer friends… For some reason, I feel that it’s been a while in the bus and I should get off. When I stepped out of the bus, I don’t know where I am. I am not afraid just confused. Coz worse comes to worse I will just find a cab but so many times they don’t know where Mother’s House is, I better walk. I was starving but thinking quite positively, I think it should not take me too long….and I was wrong. I went from streets to streets asking people for direction, from alleys to alleys. Passed by all the hawkers, dry and wet trash, cattle were eating off the trash, zillions of flies in the air, and someone were peeing on the road, then motorbikes ran like so close to you like 5cm away, and someone would be frying omelette next to you and people eating by the side with their hands, then filthy kids are crying naked On the road….the further I walk, I am more tired coz my ears are hearing 5 different honks from the vehicles at the same time. I have to watch the pits on the road and not to trip on the shit in front of me. Where is my hotel…. 40 minutes of walk already. My head is spinning. People are speaking to me asking if I am Japanese and keep saying broken Japanese, I rolled my eyes. And street kids pulling my backpack trying to beg for money. Rickshaw nearly ran over my Nike sneakers when the puller actually run on the bumpy road shoeless. I am so tired and want to sit down in a restaurant for a simple lunch but it’s all street food where fat naked middle aged sweaty men were making Pratha (Indian style tortilla) with their bare hands and finger nails all black. I kept on walking and don’t want to think and asked myself: “Michell, why are you here? And for what?” Finally, I made a turn and hit the Main Street, it’s my street! Hallelujah! I saw my hotel. What is the insight? I feel so bad I am so spoiled that something Stephania does every single day for three years I cannot even tolerate for one morning. How fragile and unfit I am. I am speechless. Mother Teresa and all the fathers, sisters continuously do all these tough work day after day year after year. I know I am just given an experience to let me understand how blessed I am and I have so much to feel happy about. Do not look at what you do not have and be unhappy or discontent. Look at what you have! Open your eyes and see with your own eyes what you have. See your life in another perspective and the world you live in is more than beautiful. Thank you God.

Quote of the Day
God’s voice thunders in marvellous ways; He does great things beyond our understanding. He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth,’ and to the rain shower, ‘Be a mighty downpour.’
Job 37:5-6
I pray to God that I will not doubt all those things He has make me experience as I will not understand all of them, just move on and trust Him. He will only provide me with the best.

Postscript Quote 
Don’t be too quick to draw conclusions from what happens to you; simply let it happen. Otherwise it will be too easy for you to look with blame…at your past, which naturally has a share with everything that now meets you.
Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to Young Poet

When I am Being Prayed For

One thing very unforgettable happened yesterday at Sunday service that I feel I must document so I wouldn’t let this fade in my heart. The sermon series is called The Working of the Spirit which yesterday’s theme is about Healing and Wholeness. Pastor John Snelgrove was teaching about how we should pray. But one thing he highlights about the outcome which is so bewildering is that why some prayers are answered while some are not? One thing he said, if people number 1 through 9 you prayed for do not see the ‘result’, pray for number 10. You just do not stop. At one point, John brought up many issues about things people want to be prayed for such as a bad back, broken leg, jobs, deafness, blurring vision, uncertain future, etc and the list was super long, then he said to the congregation if there is anything here that he mentioned coincides with what you face now, raised your hand and the people around that person shall pray for the needy one. That moment, I raised my hand – in the midst of like hundreds of people, I was not afraid to let people know I am hurt and want to be prayed for.  Immediately, the adjacent people swarmed around me and pray. I was like starting to feel the current moving into my body and I just hear small murmur around my ears and I pray to God with my hands open in the air.  Some slowly left me and I thank them with all my heart, but one lady stayed with me for a long time. She then asked me if there is anything specific she can pray for me? I was really surprised but do not want to reject this open invitation from God through this kind woman and I told her a few things from Occupy Movement to my upcoming trip to India and the broken-ness of my heart. She upon listening then laid her hand on my shoulder and started to pray fiercely and loudly, just like one of the disciples of Jesus proclaiming His name calling for His grace and mercy on me. She was so super proficient in her words and she was filled with strength and might through Him, and then she started to speak in tongues and then back in English and then in tongues and back in English. I was stunned, struck with awe and tears started to fall from my eyes. How amazing when you feel that someone is praying for you purely devoting all her might for you. It’s just for you. And God will hear those plea. And when this amazing gifted person is done like after a long time, I thank Him and her, and went to take the Holy Union – blood and body of Christ and feeling that His presence in me. At this moment when I just put the bread in my mouth, another woman I have never seen or known at all, come next to me.  From her accent, I guess she is an Australian and she again laid her hand on my shoulder and she just looked at me in my eyes and so gently she said to me: “I saw a spark just now, a very small spark in you. It’s in you and it’s so tiny that it’s like the wind is blowing against it and it’s so so weak and small that it’s going off very soon.”  Then tears kept rolling from my eyes like water tap… She continued and looked at me with such a laser focus “But now there is a fire.”  And my tears are flowing like river.  “And it’s firing up now, like a bon-fire.” She smiled at me with the greatest kindness. This lady’s eyes are a bit red in fact and then I told her I am speechless. I really do not know what to say but to thank her for her words about what she saw. We hugged each other and I felt so strange and completely out of control. I do not know what happened.  This is so surreal and I know why this Aussie lady saw something she saw. Because I was angry at God earlier and felt really disappointed about Him. I lost my anchor and did not hold Him close because He disappoints me as I felt that He let me down again and again while I have been a good kid to Him all along. But I hang in there and trying to find my way though.  Yesterday, God sent His people to speak with me:  first my Pastor, then the person who prayed for me who spoke in tongues and then the ‘prophet’ woman. All these happened within 30 minutes of my life seamlessly one after the other just to make sure I dig it. This echoes my Alpha course the other night about how do we hear from God? Team mate mentioned a lot of things like through the Bible, through dreams, through circumstance of life, and I said through people. And once again the story connects – dots are connecting. I have never experienced anything like what I mentioned here but I know God is speaking to me. He is speaking to me specifically with dedication and whole-heartedly. He does not leave us alone.

Quote of the Day
Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!
Psalm 66:20
I pray to God that I will believe and trust in Him and have faith in Him.

Postscript Quote 
Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.
Bruce Lee 

Comfort vs Affliction

There is a new birth at my church today and her name is Isabella who is now 5 weeks old. Her father gave my service a very sincere testimony, tears rolled from my eyes when I was listening. Don’t know since when, I easily…easily got my eyes wet and tears rolling like water dripping off from a tap, at church or reading newspaper or watching news. People told me because the Holy Spirit is with me…I believe so.

This father shared with us how the last 3 years was to him before his Isabella was born. Unlike the common story that people are working really hard to get conceived, this father not only has a hard time getting his wife conceived, he is diagnosed that he has only 10% chance in being a father. He was devastated but he did not give up and trying lots of program, approach whatever one call – to amp that chance up. The TCM – Chinese medicine approach backfired, he suffered from the medication which made his body not reacting properly, he has to go to bathroom every 15 min, and that led to insomnia, low spirit, grumpiness and to the point he suffers from depression and he has suicidal thoughts. His marriage was wrecking…. The emotion brought him to a point he is really mad and angry with God, in his words today, he is Pissed Off and challenged God for being so indifferent and cold-hearted to his simple needs. He was ready to renounce God and left him to live alone. He said he felt like it’s the time when Abraham asked for Issac but given Ishmael type of moment.  But this father kept to his point, he encouraged us that in the messiest moment of his life, he saw something else – that moment when he was speaking – nearly the whole stage were packed with his friends and relatives. It’s at his lowest low, dark valley years that the church mates kept him accompanied, never abandon him and his wife, they insisted to encourage him. And hence he could wait to this moment when he finally has his baby girl. His life was so full of mess and shxt and it’s only through the mess and chaos this man was relying and surrendering his whole being. Our Senior Pastor Andrew Gardener, supplemented that God comforts the afflicted, and afflict those in comfort. When I hear that…I was like – struck by a lightning. Not that I have not seen people afflicted or in comfort, but Ps. Andrew points it out the logic behind the scenario.  Most of the time, I am those in comfort, and I will see affliction and disruption on and off, and I broke down. But compare to those truly afflicted, we are like facing paper cut while others are being beheaded. I am such a baby when it comes to life lesson, meaning I am naive and ignorant. Messiness in life is FINE and it’s true that only through the disorder we learn to be strategic and understand God’s ‘plot’ for us more. Don’t be upset when things don’t move smooth, it’s your blessing in fact coz that makes you learn more.

Quote of the Day
For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.
1 Corinthians 14:33
I pray to God that I will learn and practice and explore – to appreciate the things that He has given to me.

Postscript Quote 
I live because God put me on Earth for a reason.
Even if I mess up sometimes. There is always a bigger picture.