Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Week 43

Week forty three was a stable week, as it has been since our putonghua revival. On Monday I went to our favorite faraway cafeteria for breakfast, later chomping down on a new Signature ANGUS beef for lunch, eating half the fries and drinking half the coke to curtail my high blood, if it is of any use. At 1pm I swam and jogged for an hour at the pool, and dashed off to meet my buddy who took me to Prince Edward to buy roses for Doris.

On Tuesday I woke to a dream of Doris. We bought BBQ pork and roast pork for our car travel. Many of our travels are by car reminiscent of our USA days. Doris gave me a hug, telling me she was bitten by bugs, and ended by saying, "Let's boil rice." Later we went to a store that was eyeing at my usa dollars. It's such a sweet dream.

On Wednesday I felt bad for my demanding requirement on a co-worker who was scheduled to preach a few days away. Old style coworkers have a hard time with Greek grammar, Bible study and communication skills. I felt bad and apologized. At night I left deacons meeting earlier so that I can still do my prayer walk before the day was over.

The next day was a light day at work because the putonghua department was headed to Cheung Chau for team building. We met with four former and present interns and we had a great time strolling on the island. I felt that our department has grown a lot and the team organized the revivals well, with some even considering it fun. A coworker's surgery and the use of morphine as painkiller evoked memories of Doris' use of morphine to battle pain. It was touching but tough.

On Friday I met an old friend from USA for breakfast and he had slimmed down considerably, saying his diet is more balanced over there. Friday night I was scheduled to speak at a couples fellowship. The invitation to talk on 同作門徒 arose two weeks ago when I did a chapter for one cell group and received a follow-up invitation to speak to all joint groups (300 strong attendance) that went down well, but unexpectedly a lot of interest was focused on 文法聖經.

On Saturday my own couples fellowship Bible study questions writing team got off to a good start. The three members were so mature and excited that I did not have to do all. Their job was to write the answers to my study questions and to write the corresponding application questions to my study questions. There was no rest later as I had to talk to a person and go through another coworkers sermon, but it was good for all. At the end of the day I volunteered to do benediction for a worship lacking ordained pastors. The speaker that day did a great job, selfishly speaking, benefiting from our study together.

Sunday was the last week to this quarter's Sunday school and the class ended on a high note. In the afternoon I met a co-worker from another organization for drinks. At the end of the day I did my prayer walk and worked hard on the final chapter of Doris' new book.

Mar 21, 2017

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Week 42

Week forty two is a healthy week in more ways than one. On Monday the putonghua expository preaching revival got under way. For the next few days morning attendance was around 125, night 250.I was the chair for the night meeting and I did my pth best. When I told the speaker, an old acquaintance my wife passed away nine months ago, Some listener added, It's been quite awhile 都有一段時間." How annoying and classless, but that's the way people view a loss that is not theirs to begin with. For the rest of the week I delighted in Au's teaching. On the first night I walked old acquaintance the speaker home to his guest lodge fifteen minutes away and we shared old and new times together. He inspired me as a person, a teacher and a gentleman.

On Tuesday the revival was in full swing and I took a back seat to my two coworkers who truly ran the show with bravado while I ended up copying printouts for a days seminar, for a change. It was the least I could do compared with the frenetic pace of my coworkers.

The next day was the sweetest because I had a long and pleasant dream of Doris and I. We were parked in a quiet deserted corner with trees by the side where Doris and I slept for a long time in a comfortable mattress. To wake her up, as always, I said we better get going for fear of strangers, which usually works. When she drove, she was too close to other cars, causing consternation in me. When I said to a little girl on the street, "Girl, stay close to yout family so you don't get lost," Doris rebutted in a fun, "係唔係趁機會講我 Are you taking advantage to talk (the same) to me?" 

On Thursday I picked up my medical report to find no other complications except for my earlier on the spot reported high blood pressure.  At noon a co-worker asked to see me concerning my talk next Friday at her fellowship and later we shared a drink with her husband. At night an old song at the revival brought tears to my eyes because Doris used to play the song at home. It's another discovery to realize how old songs we sang touched me. 

Friday could not come fast enough for me. I had western lunch for a change, with four others and a speaker. It was a nice week at fellowship with the speaker but all party had to end, thankfully for my tired coworkers good.

Saturday was not any easier because I had to meet a guest for dinner and I was tired by that time. At least the talk on politics by the expert was interesting. The reality of my high blood pressure recently afforded me half an hour in exercise and prayer exercising, so wrote down these prayer reminders for a prayer ministry like Doris:
1. Parkinson's disease friend
2. James to share gospel with business partner
3. C, financial trap
4. K, legal issue
5. K, nursing home dad
6. L, breast cancer

Sunday arrived and I attended campus marketplace talk at noon, gave Doris blog books to the speaker to give to her colleagues who know Doris, and then left with a friend who wanted to take me to Shek Kong, a place he once took Doris and I to see flowers bloom. At night I did my prayer walk. My hbp after 16 days exercise had gone down to 143/93 from 155/96 , praise God!

Finally, the song that triggered memories of Doris and tears in me:

Mar 10, 2017

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Week 41

Already this is week forty one. On Monday I had lunch with Doris former classmates. The topic was none other but politics, Lam or Tsang? At night I had dinner with my predecessor and his wife. We always treated each other as friends even when he was more senior than me at work. As time goes by, we established a friendly relationship. Our progressive dinner includes wanton noodles in one store, bread n milk in another, and fruit or 湯圓 in the last. We had a great time at food and fellowship.

On Tuesday I met a man who accepted Christ two years ago. He told me how he had not cheated at taxes for the last two years and God has blessed his finances with the same gain. At night I returned to help a fellowship at their core meeting, confirming I will help in prestudy, and once a month devotion.

After I was diagnosed with high blood pressure I was careful with my lifestyle. Besides keeping to a regimen of jogging 1,000 times or steps in the pool, I no longer drink my favorite HK milk tea but turned to Ovaltine instead. Wednesday was the start.

By Thursday I finished my coming Sunday sermon, so it was a good day. Today's diet drink was Horlicks instead of milk tea. My friend has favorable news on his early Parkinson's report in that his doctor cannot confirm or rule out Parkinson's.

On Friday I met with a HK praise team ministry founder and his staff person. He happened to be the brother of one HKs most renowned Christian. Lunch was with a good USA friend who brought my purchases and his gift for me. At night I gave a 同作門徒 talk to a cell group with the response: Thanks, we enjoyed it a lot.

On Saturday a dearly beloved USA friend dropped by to visit me but I sensed he wanted me to stop crying, which made me feel uncomfortable. I clarified with him and he replied, "You are too deep into your sentiments, so a little reminder was fine." Few understand the deep pain of losing a spouse at the prime of the spouse's life, not even a very dearly beloved friend could empathize. I was disappointed.

On Sunday the sermon was well received, which made me cry longer than usual  the moment I got to sit down after the sermon. At night I went with my neighbor to a friends place for hotpot.

Finally a song Doris once quoted in her blog that meant something to me in declining health:
Breathe on me, breath of God

Mar 7, 2017

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Week 40

Week forty is a bad week for my health. On Monday I returned to support a leader on a case and prayed for him in the afternoon. At night I do my prayer walk and worked on our next book.

On Tuesday we had two busy meetings, eating into study and sermon preparation time.  At night I attended men's fellowship with a few members. When I arrived home at night Doris beautiful lilies were in full bloom and sweet fragrance.

The next day 22nd was mourning day. A friend had cut my hair short yesterday to remember the ninth month without Doris today. I dressed in all black including vest but nobody seemed to notice now because I do it monthly and black is common in the cold weather. A friend in his late 40s requested prayer time with me because he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, with MRI to come. We cried and prayed together. Please remember him and his young family in prayer.

On Thursday I had more bad medical news. My checkup indicated I had high blood pressure, with 155/96 on second reading. A nurse asked me to consider medication. I would have to think about it. At noon I bought a high blood pressure gauge to monitor myself daily. I read up on high blood pressure. It's down to exercise and diet now.

On Friday a few workers visited an old friend to find him in a jolly good mood even without work for the moment. I returned for a wondrous sharing and prayer. At night I went for prayer walk and rested early to calm my blood.

I slept eight hours and jogged 1,000 times at the pool, which I used to do in USA. I thought this would be a good way to counter it because I had none of these diseases previously.

I left for church after swimming and jogging another 500 times in the pool on Sunday. I checked myself after Sunday school and the reading went down 1 point to 154 from 155. We had 35 mainland pastors from ABS attending our worship, so we gave a half hour talk as requested to them. I also gave each 文法聖經.

Finally, a song that touched me on Saturday, no matter how I fought it:

Feb 28, 2017

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Week 39

Week thirty nine was an uneventful week, praise God. On Monday I went with a buddy to hear a case. As expected it boils down to the three P's - proof, privacy and procedures. I was glad I took a quick nap so that I can concentrate better.

The next day 8:15am, I texted Doris: Happy Valentine's Day, Baby! Back to church I had to speed up my work for Sunday sermon on Ecclesiastes 11, including translation, but the day was disrupted by a 10am meeting, and more meeting at 2pm. I joined the earlier meeting at least 15 minutes late so that I could finish translating the first point. At night I did prayer walk and successfully bypassed Valentine's Day.

On Wednesday night I noticed a different me at deacons meeting. I looked for my fellowship deacons to shake their hands or say Hi. It can only mean I was getting better, and not avoid others.

The following day I had to work on additional sermons for our new book just as I thought I was almost done. The reason was that Doris had entered at least four more biblical passages for our book on the Maketplace 職場 which I did not realize because the new passages were scrolled on the back page of a note. The book could be too big at thirty six chapters.

On Friday as usual I had dinner with no. 2 sister and husband. Because the fellowship had a big group joining all cell groups, I was able to observe how brother in law was doing since he accepted Christ and was attending new believers class. It is good to know he truly enjoyed the joint meeting talk. Doris prayed for him for many years and the staunch Buddhist accepted Christ several months before Doris left us.

The next day was tiring. I attended a noon funeral, talked 文法聖經 at a buddy's fellowship and attended putonghua joint fellowship. Doris' cancer made me more aware of people's need and a pastors presence at a funeral was always appreciated, even though I am no longer active in the fellowship. As I took the bus to tsing yi to attend the funeral,  a little girl stepped into the crowded bus, whining for a seat. After give seconds or so I gave her mine but the father's said, 老人家 冇啦! He's old 😨😰! I got my seat back.

Sunday was challenging. I got up for my morning swim, caught the 750am bus to teach Sunday school, followed by the Sunday sermon that was well received. Two teardrops,  left followed by right, fell from my eyes as I sat on my chair after the message, remembering Doris. A youth's invitation to attend youth fellowship prompted more calls from a youth who asked, pastor, why have you not joined us anymore?"

Feb 21, 2017

Monday, February 13, 2017

Week 38

Week thirty eight was a "dream" week. On Monday I took Doris' former Queens University alum and wife home to view her urn. So far the most guests are from her Queens friends living overseas, including Derek and Wilford. I even took them a walk to the old village and pier and found their old photos attending our wedding in our album, so I gave the doubles and scanned others for them.

The next day at coworkers prayer meeting was painful. Prayer meeting usually evokes memories in me, especially the songs and collective prayers of forgiveness and healing. I wept because I understand how hard it is for our group to move on or move forward because I have similar problems, so I disappear from view before the end.

On Wednesday I caught a Miyazaki movie My Neighbor Totoro and identified with the two young girls who waited for their sick mom's release from hospital. When the hospital sent a telegram to tell them their mom's release has been delayed the youngest sister decided to look for her mom in a city  hours away. I had to hold back my tears, but the father's words were heartening: "They will just postpone the enjoyment." I will have to postpone my enjoyment too.

The following day I woke to a dream of Doris bothered by flies in her sleep. She usually dreamed of dogs, rats and bugs in her sleep. When I asked her if she wants to go swimming with me, she says, "Let's go during the first session."

On Friday I had a department meeting, but I was not well for the next two days. I met Doris' sister for dinner before our fellowship. She really tried to keep my spirits up, even cooking two dishes for me to take home.

On Saturday I bought lilies for Doris because the shop closed last night after 7 pm.  My mentor and neighbors would be visiting me tomorrow. Also, the flowers at home are fading. 

On Sunday morning I had to take 750am bus to avoid the marathon traffic. In Sunday school I had a difficult discipleship passage but now I can understand how Luke 9:24-26 connects to the previous verse's   imperatives - deny, take up and follow. After church my mentor Herman 鄧灼文 and wife Eleanor went home with me to pay respect to Doris. More passionate and compassionate than me, he led in the crying. At night I hosted hotpot for a neighbor and his two young sons while their mom is on short term missions. I was a good host!

Finally Sunday's song still brings tears to my eyes:

Feb 18, 2017

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Week 37

Week thirty seven begins with the third day of Chinese New Year. On Monday I woke up to a dream of asking Doris if she wants to have breakfast. However one of us was full. I think Doris also wanted to fill a form to do more studies! At noon we went to walk at the Peak with Doris' two sisters and two fellowship members, one of them feeling down every new years day since her mother passed away twelve years ago. Doris and I used to walk with her sisters a few years ago.

Tuesday, day four of new year, was still a holiday in HK, so I decided to return to Elements where Doris and I spent a lot of coffee time there, bringing my computer. Since I ate carrot cake in the morning, I could hold off lunch till a later time, hoping to catch lunch with a friend who lives there. After a while it was five hours. I had finished writing a gospel tract for a publisher, wrote the preface to Doris' new book 求祢使我痊癒 and answered publishers questions. Since my friend was not around I went to Tsingyi to have high tea but it was open cutthroat season, charging me $85 for my order that included additional soup. It saved me having to cook dinner. At night I have my big CNY gift when I finally recovered Doris Lent meditation questions that I had looked without success for months in her PC. Thankfully I remembered I had sent it to my email account and it was harrowing because three of the five files I sent were corrupted.

On Wednesday I could not sleep at night because of barley and ginger water I made for my mouth ulcer caused me sleeplessness. At 330am I gave up and took a sleeping pill retained from my USA trip because I had a 810am breakfast appointment with a younger coworker in the morning.

The next day my subscribed devotion text was from Psalm 73. It stirred within me a compunction to preach the text. I also wanted to find out why I did not choose the text when I preached on My Favorite Psalms last year. To my surprise I had prepared the sermon without preaching it, praise God because I did not want to miss it. Strangely I have two more Psalms in my mind to preach now, along with Psalm 13.

On Friday I bought four more coffee cards for coworkers. It came about when a coworker invited me for dinner two days ago. I gave red packets to the children but none to the parents, so I decided to give them a coffee card the next morning so they can take advantage of the buy one free one offer for the month. The more I thought about it, the more I felt that since I cannot give free coffee to Doris, who likes to sip mocha, I may as well give it to close coworkers to pay it forward. At night I joined ten former students from Queens University Canada for dinner. Three had returned to HK for the holidays.  

This CNY I had a double blessing when I woke to another dream of Doris on Saturday. I had a bad headache probably from sitting next to a friend of Doris who was coughing last night. The return was I slept for seven and a half hours, when the dream appeared last minute. It was a blurry one to which she said she cannot answer students' cable speed questions.

On Sunday the headache lingered, causing drowsiness during sermon time. After lunch I still could not concentrate, so I decided not to fight it and called it a day. At home I slept for a long two hours, yet I did not give up on my prayer walk. The week ended with gratitude I could dream twice of Doris after two silent months, unfathomable.

Jan 7, 2017

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Week 36

Week thirty six coincides with Chinese New Year, so it's a vulnerable week. On Monday we had our family reunion dinner. At first we planned to eat outside, but I did not want relatives to spend money, so I suggested to eat at older sister's home an hour away. Besides sister no. 4 can only come at 745pm because she had to feed a dog and a cat, herself last.

The next day I had dinner with my mentor Herman Tang, his wife Eleanor, Ho family, and a co-worker. It was a good fellowship and a personal honor to treat  a great and godly man.

On Wednesday night I had a bad dream that the leaders of my fellowship were split into pro-Hong Kong and international parties, more on the HK side, and feelings ran high with the fellowship leader lining up literally on the HK side as both parties came up to line on both sides at the front of the platform.

On Thursday I had a special dinner night with a buddy, his family and another family. I brought dessert and we spent some time together, ending with prayer. These buddies always think of my need, thankful.

The next day on new year's Eve I was teary early in the morning. The next surge of sentiment came as I reached office, but a co-workers presence at the MTR quickly dried it up. In the evening a buddy presented orchids to Doris for the festive season, actually a gift from two good buddies. I was touched again. At night I was glad a church leader invited me to UST for reunion dinner with his family and nephew. After that we had Chinese dessert at Whampoa, a nice gesture and a night's relief for all. I bought bakery for the family. 

On the first day of Chinese new year I got up with the feeling I should not stay home even though last night I planned to spend a quiet morning at our downstairs cafeteria. At least I was ready to tackle the day as I said, Good morning, Lord. Good morning Wife. Then I packed my PC, put the chain of Doris I had worn around my neck for my USA trip, and went to our favorite cafeteria in Tung Chung, ordering mocha and a pork roll and doing close to four hours work there. I skipped the lunch buffet nearby that shot up from $158 to $238. Since the food court was closed for good to turn into stores, I decided to go home for lunch. After a swim later I decided to go to our nearest nearby mall for high tea, but the shrewd pizza restaurant limited tea hours from three to four thirty, leaving me late by half an hour. I ate Thai food from high tea to dinner time, going home at seven to do more work at home.

After Sunday worship, the missions speaker Dr. L invited me to lunch. I asked him why he insisted on lunch together he said, I thought you have treatment我以為你有treatment 但係你睇起來都幾好精神but you look alert。Not so fast, but it's a good reminder.

Finally, my prayer for 2017 new year:
Touch my heart,
Transform my mind,
Toughen my body,
Try my being.

Jan 31, 2017

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Week 35

Week thirty five climaxed with eight months without my beloved Doris. On Monday I stayed at home till 430pm when I arrived at Yuen Long to meet a family from Couples Fellowship at their new residence, where we were joined by a coworker couple. I enjoyed the carefree talk we had. Knowing the reception, I did my hour long prayer walk at noon after lunch at my favorite island eatery.

At Tuesday's coworker Chinese New Year lunch there were some tears from singing the song 依靠耶和華. No matter how I widened my eyes to hold back the tears, it didn't work. When the chair asked coworkers to greet each other with the song title or say God bless you, I turned to my coworker and said, How do I say it 點講好?He expertly replied, No need to say 唔洗講。

The next day I wrote down a quote from Nouwen's book: Life is from dependence to dependence. He refers to our helplessness as a babe to a senior. I met a neighbor who had cancer and she told of reading Doris' blog book many times to comfort herself, praise God! At night I attended the funeral of a parent to one of our cell group leaders. It was the least I could do knowing how tough grief was for the family.

On Thursday I was refused medical checkup because my ID was not in my wallet. Worse, I did not know when I lost it but it must be after my USA trip. What a bummer. I called immigration twice to find a next day appointment. I also wasted my overnight fasting. At office I was encouraged by study on Psalms 13 for my future sermon. Three months ago I cried like a baby hearing it read at a retreat, but now it lifted me up.

The next day I had a midnoon appointment with a seminary student that turned up well. It is not my forte to mingle with those less than 30, but I'm getting the hang of it. The new committee 交職禮 for Couples Fellowship was inaugurated at night, for lack of better word. I was designated to lead Bible study for them on the book of Acts till they find a new pastor (not much prospect).

On Saturday morning's worship I met an oncologist who saw Doris once free and gave consultation generously. I called his name and he invited me sit with him and his wife. He said he saw me but was unsure if I remembered him. It was his first time attending Saturday morning worship and my only time there as a non speaker to hear the topic of God's kingdom that was not preached.  During worship I was moved to pray for them, and they were thrilled. I learned from the day's message that asked, How did you experience God lately? Doris learned faster than me in the joy of experiencing God. Later in mid noon a buddy cut my hair to get ready for the special day tomorrow. Many are catching up to why I cut my hair short on a particular day.

Sunday is eight months without Doris. All was well until before bed when the dam broke. I asked myself, Did I do or care enough? Why did she leave me? Numerous questions, but no answers. I held on to her favorite Korean blanket to sleep the night away.

Finally the bittersweet song Tuesday that evokes memories:

Jan 24, 2017

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Week 34

Week thirty four was a blessing in disguise. On Monday I had lunch with a friend who is returning to Canada for ministry due health reasons 四高 after five years in HK. After lunch I went to a bookstore with a USA friend who also wanted to have a look at his old church. At the bookstore a worker replied when I asked for 同作門徒:冇曬咗! Later we visited his old pastor and wife, who had insomnia for two years since her brother committed suicide twelve years ago and her sister is also depressed. She herself came out of depression lately over a verse - there is no fear in love. When she asked me how I was lately, i said my three weeks trip to USA gave me closure, but my USA friend, an established psychology professor who returns yearly to do research for one of HK's two leading universities, diplomatically chimed in, saying, "Closure is inhumane because it means you have no feelings and connection to the loved one anymore."  I was surprised this is the current view in psychology, so I have to rethink, but I was glad for this new perspective.

The next day I was back to the grind because it was sermon week on another difficult passage, Ecclesiastes 10, a sermon halfway done two months ago before my trip to USA. Worse is there were no illustrations, and translation must be done, so I knew the week and work were not looking good.

On Wednesday I woke up to a silly dream. A coworker was teasing me for being able to hold my tears while Some was eyeing me. It is a change because it is now not about Doris, but my struggles. Another dream this week was about an overcrowded cemetery where people cannot figure out which urn was that of their loved one. 

Thursday was a frustrating IT day. My phone had switched lately to SAFE mode once but it returned to normal, but this time it did not, so I thought I had to reload my WhatsApp since the icon was missing. When I did so I did not realize I had clicked uninstall, so two days of WhatsApp messages were missing when I reinstalled it because backup was two days ago. I could have kicked myself but important messages were resent to me by friends. Most important my abbreviated messages to Doris were still in her phone.

The next day a counselor from a buddy's Fellowship took us out for lunch. It was nice to have folks remembering coworkers for Chinese new year. At night I attended men's Fellowship gospel talk. The biggest surprise was my publisher announced the third edition of our book 同作門徒 in less than a year. I was touched but saddened at the same time. https://www.facebook.com/victor.yap.1401/posts/10155060077774994?notif_t=like&notif_id=1484319092543210

The next day was tiring. The department vetting was in the morning, department yearly lunch was noon, department meeting at two, coffee with a buddy after, prestudy kickoff for a Fellowship studying同作門徒, short dinner, return to fellowship, what a long day. Going home I ironed my clothes and worked on the third point of the sermon.

Sermon day arrived, but not before Sunday school lesson at 845am for 35 students. They truly enjoyed the 同作門徒 class. The sermon was a blessing from God as many thanked me and appreciated it. A critic even came up to me to call an indirect truce. A friend enthused: 感謝主!太太説今天听牧師講道有很大得著!👍🙏👏 聖靈工作,牧師也很用心! 傳道書作為講章預備很難我覺得。At night I finished reading Henri Nouwen's A Letter of Consolation, a compilation of letters to his upset father when Nouwen's mother passed away, with this concessionary piece from chapter seven: "Now I see why it is false to say that a religious person should find death easy and acceptable. Now I understand why it is wrong to think that a death without struggle and agony is a sign of great faith. These ideas do not make much sense once we realize that faith opens us to the full affirmation of life and gives us an intense desire to live more fully, more vibrantly, and more vigorously. If anyone should protest against death it is the religious person, the person who has increasingly come to know God as the God of the living."

Finally I had to hold back tears listening to this song in Couples Fellowship:

Jan 17, 2017