Thoughts on Kingdom, Church, and Grace from an American living in Hong Kong

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Living in Hong Kong: Hong Kong Anniversary!

This week was a special week for me.  On October 5th it was the 20th anniversary of the day I first arrived in Hong Kong.  Three days later on October 8th, I was introduced to my wife Tammy for the first time.

1990...It had been a crazy long flight but designed to be as cheap as possible. The travel agent had asked me where I needed a ticket to.  "China" I answered.
"Which city?"
"Hong Kong" I replied.
The travel agents tone changed slightly and she said a little gruffly, "Hong Kong is Not China" in a way that sounded more personal than informative, and giving a naive American his first lesson into the geo-politics of the area.  I didn't care, I just wanted a cheap ticket.  I got it but...

...arrived in Hong Kong on a Korean Airlines 747 after a grueling 30+ hour flight that had me going from Detroit to New York, to Anchorage Alaska, to Seoul Korea, and finally to Hong Kong.  I was picked up at the airport by "Toby" the guy that I was going to share a flat with.   He dumped me off in an empty reception area of the church I'd be working at until he had time to take me out to my new digs.

As I sat there, blurry eyed with fatigue and desperately needing a shower, a guy came up and asked me if I was busy.  I nodded that I wasn't.  "Great," he said, "because I need someone to clean the bathrooms."
I thought he was joking...

...he wasn't! 

Not only that, he informed me the church was out of cleaner and I needed to go buy some.  He took me to the window and pointed out at a mass of humanity that was Mong Kok and gave we directions to a little Mom & Pop shop where I could get the cleaner.  He gave me my first Hong Kong dollars, an empty cleaner bottle so I got the right stuff, and shoved me out the door.
Again, I thought he was joking...

...he wasn't!

I came back with the goods after my first (but certainly not my last) excursion into the alleyways of Mong Kok and was promptly put to work by the guy, who I discovered was one of my new bosses.  As I sat their scrubbing toilets I felt it was all some surreal dream and I would be waking up at any moment!  Being a young kid trying to make an impression I convinced myself that they were testing me...that they were trying to see if I was made of the right stuff.  No matter how tired I was or how much I smelled...I was going to show them Jesus in my heart...

Turns out I wasn't being tested...and the boss, well he turned out to, how do I say this polietely, he  just marched to the beat of a different drummer :)  But that was my Welcome to Hong Kong moment! Incidently, I was at a church service recently where a number of churches got together in celebration.  I spotted this guy up on the stage in the worship band.  It had been 18 years since I last saw him...

I didn't go up to say hi! :)

Young Couple

Two days later on Sunday morning I was at my first church service and Tammy (my wife to be) walked through the door.  My first thought was, "Well, this place is finally starting to pick up a little..." 

The next day on Monday I made my first trip into Mainland China bringing Bibles.  I was really excited and when I walked into the office to meet "Jeff" who would be leading me in on my first trip, Tammy was working and I was introduced to her for the first time.  BTW, I made it in with all my Bibles on that first trip and tried to visit the opening of the first  "McDonalds" in China which was on the same day but we couldn't even get close such was the crowd of Chinese eager to get their first Big Mac!

With Gray Hair

This week Tammy and I had an Italian dinner at "Cafe Roma" near our house to celebrate our "anniversary".  I asked Tammy if she thought on that day that twenty years later we would be married, living in Hong Kong, and that she would be 6 months pregnant with our baby?

She replied honestly, "Nope!"

Oh well, I still got the girl!


Bob said...

So Tammy's pregnant?! Am I reading this correctly?

Great story and remarkable how you two have not changed a bit over the years.

It is so cool to hear the background of how you got where you are and how God has used you. And it all started with cleaning toilets.

Steve H. said...

Yep...Tammy is at six months with our second son. There will be a 13 year space between the boys and I have to learn to change diapers again!

Bob said...

Wow, congratulations! That is great news!

Redlefty said...

Great news! I know several families with gaps that big between children and it worked out beautifully.

Bob said...

It might be a little tricky when you're visiting a theme park . . . just saying. (but the joy will far outweigh any slight challenge. Congrats again!)