Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Week 21

Week twenty one was similar to week twenty but on a lighter note. Monday I visited Doris alumni sister and her unsaved father in Yuen Long. There was nothing I could do because he was bent on unbelieving and arguing. Later I walked downtown to remember my earlier work days here.

Tuesday night emotions caught up to me. A good friend agreed to drive me along southern Californias coast when I return to USA in November so that I can get back to the trail that Doris and I took on our honeymoon and to lodge at Carmel. I will leave Nov 17 for three weeks.

The next morning I woke up to a dream of convincing Doris to eat food. She was always careful to eat food that is healthy, and I was trying to persuade her to eat what I bought her, saying it is frequented by lots of customers at a cleaner location.

On Wednesday there was no time to waste because Saturday sermon was round the corner and I was still behind by a day or two in work. I have to be very disciplined because I got three new sermons coming up in next four weeks, now I know how last minute people feels. Shoulder blade pain and a sprained neck also bothered me for two weeks in a row.

My sermon preparation was further compounded by a wedding rehearsal on Thursday. I was glad for coworkers help so that I just needed to practice and direct the vows. My preparation was harder than usual since the groom is from another church and I had switch to their Chinese names instead of the brides normal English name.

There was a lot to do on Friday, one day away from sermon delivery. I shared with a friend that today was a good week, but he quipped the week is not over. At night I had dinner with middle sister, bringing a bread I baked for two sisters.

On Saturday there were lots of tears. I woke up 5am to work on some missing pieces in the sermon.In the morning a kind friend asked me to join a retreat in China, so I told friend my plan to drive Pacific coast highway to our honeymoon destination, and in the process the tears returned. At the wedding the groom started crying when the bride entered, so that made me emotional. At night during the sermon in Luke 4 Jesus temptation, I questioned why Doris had cancer, suffered and died,in contrast to Psalm 91 where the Messiah was promised to be guarded and his foot not dashed: "because he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all your ways."The answer is in verse 14 "because" : *because*
he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, *because* he hath known my name. The devil said the "because" in verse 11 but left out other two important "because" in verse 14. I was comforted because, like the Son, Doris love for the Father never changed no matter the circumstances and results.

Sunday was a calmer day. We had a good marketplace study on passing the baton, from Paul to Ephesus elders in Acts 20.

Add a verse that inspired me Sunday: Luke 9:62 And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.  Oct 18

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Week 20

Week twenty was one of my better weeks, except for a few days. Monday was a busy day as I joined two USA friends and their friend for lunch and my neighbors family for dinner. The USA friend surprised me by visiting my church the day before. My tears welled up upon seeing an old friend.

The next day was a little teary. A friend introduced me to a man who kept his wife's urn at home too. The man who lost his wife eight years ago told me he had no problems even though he did not seal the urn top. The man did not remarry, but his last eight years were characterized by misery in the first year, lost in the second to six years, and loneliness in the last two due his kids growing up and his frequent travel. He was so open, honest and vulnerable acknowledging his pain that I cried with him in prayer, so did my friend. I cannot identify with someone more.

Wednesday was a calm day. I spent an hour preparing four coworkers to coteach with me over two days of training for overseas coworkers at the end of the month. Hope it bears fruit. 

On Thursday I have a friend from Singapore suddenly arriving in town for a conference. We had lunch in Central. He has a blessed ministry now, but he had such an unbelievably hard time after his first wife died and he remarried. It almost ended his ministry. We both remember the songs in my car that comforted him at his lowest point when he visited me in Los Angeles. I wish I can listen to the album again to comfort myself, but I gave it away upon leaving USA. 

On Friday our department welcomed visitors from Taiwan. I must say our department coworkers did a good job. At night I had dinner with Doris' middle sister Faith and her husband Chiu before we joined Fellowship together, they at newcomers group because Chiu is a new believer. Over dinner Faith told me they are planning to visit her mother's grave urn in Sunday Chun Yeung festival and wanted to have dinner with me afterwards. Doris and I seldom go to cemetries for the years she had cancer. Faith said we can have dinner at kwai fong nearer where I live. I said, I can come to Hong Kong and save you guys a trip. She said, No I plan to pay respect to little sisters 小妹 urn at your home. I was shocked because she disagreed with keeping Doris urn at home out of the fear she had from seeing Doris depart the last day at home. I turned to her husband and said, You better come to join dinner too. Your wife is afraid. He asked his wife, Are you afraid? Faith answered, Of course. Finally all's well that ended well on the urn.

On Saturday I shared with a coworker the latest events in my life, including how easily sad events made me cry nowadays. True, others pain and conflict grieved me as well. In the sharing I could not help but felt it again. At night I rushed home after Fellowship because one of Doris' former students were waiting at home for me so that he could take books Doris wanted to give away to benefit Macau students.

A song 我的神 我的父 touched me deeply Sunday morning. At prayer meeting I sobbed after knowing a church leader in the same prayer group that day has cancer and needs operation on 26th. After prayer meeting I rushed to buy Doris favorite fish 班, clams and mogua, and roast pork for Chiu before heading home for their arrival including younger sister Marion. It was first dinner for us four at home and the first time using and washing so many utensils. Doris had lots of flowers, from my lilies to the yellow and white flagrant flowers 香花 Faith.  Faith cried in front of urn before they left, triggering me as well. Praise God the family can move on and maintain peace.

Finally, a verse that comforted me this week: Habakkuk 2:4 Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith. 

Oct 11

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Week 19

Week nineteen began no different from other weeks except it ended worse. On Monday I met with two sets of Doris friends, her two Los Angeles church sisters and her HK SPCC friends by noon. One from Los Angeles stayed with us ten days a few months after we were married because she had returned to HK and was back in USA to take her professional exams. I was surprised when she said Doris invited her, I had no idea or memory!

On Tuesday I had a disagreement with relatives about where to keep her urn, at Lok Fu or at home. One relative does not prefer it at home because the memory of the last day of Doris' life at home scared her because relative was there. Another said it is traditonal to be at cemetery. Third says dIfferent people grieve and mourn differently. My point was I can see urn daily, upkeep better, provide flowers, and greet urn daily. Further relatives go grave sites once or twice yearly. The tussle was enough to make me cry. The draw for her number to pick lots was tomorrow, Wednesday, and so the discussion was brought up. My own brother supported my idea. The irony is that they prefer their ashes scattered. At night I had dinner with old USA members and I told them my dilemma because one of my friend's sisinlaw passed away one month earlier than Doris and my friend's brother who was dining with us that night also; he had her wife's urn at home without a fuss.

The discussion was raised again next day because of input from  relative on USA time zone. It was serious and personal enough to warrant an audio attached to me. At 1104am the cemetery sent me a phone message to tell me our number is 551. Later I found out from the web that means we get 551th pick out of 650. So we decided to go next day to check the site. In California one in five people keep  relatives remains at home http://www.cremationsocietyofphiladelphia.com/people-keep-loved-ones-ashes-home/
I had to admit work stress and relative issues were getting to me. At night Doris' Kingston pastor 盧鋼 was in town, so we had dinner with Canada alumni.

A friend and a staff member on separate occasions this week advised me to take a look at the selection site before our pick next day Friday, so younger sister and I went only to find out that our date was the last of tgree days to pick, and good spots were already taken.

Friday came and two sisters went with me to Lok Fu. It was terrible. There were few good spots left, all were top or bottom . Younger sister declared it was the last attempt because there was no guarantee of a good draw next time, and we were told the next date for news spots is unknown. Temporarily I won the tussle with younger sisters declaration, until the next time it is brought up.

Saturday was a holiday here and I met with USA alumni to comfort person over leaving pastoral ministry. The pain of and encouraging others increased my vulnerability, and it made me grieve at night on my bed before sleeping. Maybe it was the holiday effect.

On Sunday I was at my worse at leaders retreat. The song 神坐著为王 and Psalm 13 reading made me burst into uncontrollable tears:
Psalms 13:1 To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? forever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me?  
Psalms 13:2 How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?
The speaker's tears also hit a soft spot. 

At night, however, I had a wondrous dinner and sang joyous songs of praise.

Oct 4

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Week 18

Week eighteen is a clearer week. I met a few USA friends on holiday on the first day the week. One asked me why I prefer to stay in HK? I said, "Doris wants me here so that I can still have friends." She protested, "But we are your friends." I said, "I cannot return to the same church because your present pastor's ministry would be disrupted."

Tuesday was not a good day. A coworker prayed for me and the tears flowed. I was out of strength throughout the day until I slept at home and had dinner.

I was ok on Wednesday after my crying the day before wiped me out. Wednesday was a busy day as I had to preach again on Sunday. Praise the Lord as I managed two points.

On Thursday I had dinner with Doris alumni baby sister who is now in North America but was very close to Doris previously. She told me that one of Doris' worries was that I might not get my PR in time due her fading health, which I did November last year, her gift to me. Another alumni with her brought four packs of Kleenex, but I only used one piece. Alumni baby sister months ago told Doris she will visit her in September, but Doris said, "I don't think I can wait that long." God has His timing because alumni baby sister came just as her father celebrated his birthday but had a fall and had hip surgery when she was here.

On Friday I feverishly completed my 文法聖經 as I had to hand over the 393 pages of the New Testament grammar to the editing friend to complete the design. Self publishing is less than HK$40.

On Saturday morning dreams of Doris woke me up. There were three short sequences but the only thing I remember is her question in reply, "Wouldn't it be better  for us to go somewhere quiet?" I still treasure these dreams. At noon a coworker's father had a stroke but died shortly by evening. News of his sudden death brought instant tears to my eyes. It was that effective. I couldn't help but identify and empathize with death in the family.

Sundays preaching turned out fine. I was more like sniffing than sobbing this time. I shared from Ecclesiastes 7 (better to go to the house of mourning than to the house of feasting) and included the sharing of Doris USA nephew who decided to attend her memorial service in HK instead of attending a wedding in Alaska, where he had bought tickets and arranged accommodation:
“So the wedding was some college friends from my college fellowship and it was in Alaska. I had already bought my plane tickets and planned some living arrangements with some people. But I felt that it was better to go to the memorial service and spend time with our family. And to support and encourage you and my mom and her sisters. I had to cancel my flight to Alaska. I got some of the money back but lost some of the change fee. I don't remember but i think a few hundred. I was encouraged to see all the support for our family and all the different people that she touched with her life. I also was blessed with seeing how the service was Christ centered and reminded us that we are not yet home. Hmm I helped to support the family and went in the hearse with Auntie Doris.”

September 27

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Week 17

Week seventeen is better but not by much. Monday was a good day when I led a USA friend's father to Christ. The daughter in law told friends: 有好消息和大家分享。老公話葉牧昨日探訪其實時間很短,主要內客佢講師母離去的見証,(佢講時都眼濕濕),同分享福音的寶貴。之前,老爺都唔係第一次聽,而且我老爺個人都幾驕傲自負。但神的作為是不可解釋的,昨晚老爺做了決志,接受了主基督救恩。感謝神的慈愛和憐憫,也感激牧師的幫助,也多謝各弟兄姊妹的多方代禱,才能見証神的大能。將榮耀頌讃都歸於我主我神,Allelujeah! 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼

Tuesday at Men's Fellowship I was ok whole day until prayer time when the person to my left prayed for me. A brother from China said that in China family members usually paint their home or rearrange the furniture after the death of a family member, so I understand more why I cut my hair short to make a change. 

On Wednesday a coworker complimented me by saying I have everything (in ministry) but it only served to trigger tears in me because I do not have Doris anymore. After less than a years break I was aggrieved to know that I was left out of a study group. 

On Thursday I was invited to be the godfather to a friend of Doris who was expecting. I choked back tears knowing Doris requested It because of her love for children and her friends. It was also the event of midautumn holiday in Hong Kong. A coworker invited me to dinner. I declined his offer to give me a ride from the MTR and made my way to his home. There we had wonderful dinner with his family.

On Friday a former student asked me why my hair is so short and I told through sobs that I cut my hair two days after I got my wife's ashes back from the crematorium to reflect my grief. Otherwise I had a good lunch with a coworker to keep me occupied on a holiday. I also instinctively texted my wife, Baby how are you? 

On Saturday I wrote to our former Sunday school students if they wanted a copy of Doris memorial blog gift book. About fifteen said yes. At night I had dinner with Doris sisters at Faith's place. Walking there brought back plenty of memories of our frequent travel to Tai Koo.

On Sunday a parishioner cried looking at me when I should hand with her, which made me cry too. The pastor shared how he fought nonstop with his father after his mother committed suicide in China and he had to stow away to Hong Kong to reunite with his father. His mother had taken the then there year old boy and one year old daughter to China in hope of selling the family home but suffered like all in China and killed herself.The  father and son fights stopped when he found two books his father had stored, one我的前半生 talked of his earlier happier days with his wife. That made the pastor  wiped tears from his eyes, and so did I thinking of my beloved Doris. After worship we had marketplace Bible study with a patchwork of Doris old application questions, but praise God it worked. One of the questions 有那些人是你看不起或鄙視的?你在禱告中會提及他們嗎? worked so well that I have been praying for those who rejected me from the study group.

September 21, 2016

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Week 16

Week sixteen was an emotional one. On my Monday off-day tears rolled down my cheeks in the morning. Working on my 文法 Bible could not stop it. It only reminded me work cannot deny grief. Later I had lunch with Doris sisters. Walking the Central bridge reminds me of our many trips to the Macau ferry. Her sisters plan to take me to Doris' school St Paul Co-ed that day was canceled due heavy rain.

On Tuesday a coworker apologized publicly to me for neglecting me in my loss, but it only served to trigger an outburst from me. The fresh pain of losing Doris was more powerful than the neglect.

The next day I met a man from UK who was introduced by a BSF leader. He is a lawyer and he accepted Christ last year before his wife passed away recently in June and he wanted to connect with me. It was a good experience. Originally from HK, Ho shared, " Why and how do men exist ? What's the meaning of life ? How to face death  ? These questions had always been in my mind.  I had been searching for an answer.  I went to church. I studied books on philosophy and Buddhism. I thought that I could obtain the answer by knowledge and hard work.  I also thought that I could only have a religious belief only if I had fully understand and proved everything. My wife is  a devoted Christian. She also served in church. I accompany my wife to church but I doubted about the preaching. Once, my wife introduced Pastor So to me. He talked about gospel , but I'm doubtful.  Sometimes, I heard about witnesses and felt moved.  But I would tell myself I'm being too irrational and too haste. In 2015, we knew that wife had cancer. I felt worried and helpless.  I called a former running coach. I cried and said sorry to God. There had been too much pride in me.  I had been doing things in my own ways. I had rejected God. Now God had  forgiven me.  I confirmed my belief  before Pastor So."

The next day a friend revealed that he had suicidal thoughts when his mother passed away. The younger man complimented me for my rational thinking and emotional outlet.

Friday was a good day. It'd better be. My sermon was two days ahead, so i had to pick up speed and set my head straight. Praise the Lord it was almost done by day's end.

On Saturday I asked a member if i could have back Doris' journal questions from I Thessalonians to Jude that she had written in a book. She surprised me by saying she had typed all the notes. I sobbed. My plan is to preach through all the books after the current Ecclesiastes series ends. At fellowship night I was confronted by the questions Doris herself wrote in chapter three of 同作門徒:
寫下你在跟從主的路上還未能放下/撇下的人和事, 障礙是甚麼? 寫下它並為此禱告, 求神的幫助。

Sunday arrived and I ended my sermon right on time to join the annual meeting. I told the congregation of the peace I have with Doris' urn at home. The annual meeting on Sunday was inspiring. No wonder Doris was inspired last year, but I did not have same feeling then because I was not in the main hall. 

September 13

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Week 15

Week fifteen did not turn out better for me. Yesterday I counted my days without Doris to begin today, Monday. Tears streamed from my eyes morning and night thinking of my baby. At night I decided to cut my hair to reflect and reduce my grief. I asked the young barber, Is 3mm the shortest? He said, Can do 2mm. I said ok. After I sat down he said, Can do 0mm. I said, Next year.

I woke up next day and texted Doris, Happy 100th day in heaven! Since 100 days officially began 10pm last night I decided to skip  church buffet and eat quietly, but buddy Cheng went with me. At night a pastor's kid took me to dinner. I bought a Hong Kong soccer Jersey for myself and red lilies for Doris.

On Wednesday I sobbed receiving a text from Becky:
I can see how much you love her, who wouldn't ? God is love, we love cos God loves us. I miss her too. See her someday in heaven.

On Thursday night I rearranged Doris' urn desk and the tears unexpectedly came down. I still miss her a lot, 100 days won't do. The room smells good with lilies.

On Friday I went with Doris sister and brother in law to our big fellowship. Quite a few couldn't recognize me for my hair. It was good to say hi to those who did.

The next day my first pastor from Singapore came to Hong Kong and we had breakfast. Surprisingly I was most alert that morning. 76 year old John Chang offered to take moon cakes to my mother in Singapore. At noon I had to get cracking on my sermon next week. I had put it down for months. Going home I received a text from a Chinese group I had trained ten years ago in Rome that I had reconnected with at Taiwan CCCOWE last week. To a question about a restaurant lady Doris age who learned fastest among the class, one of the leaders replied, Except for that sister who died years ago all are well 除了秀聪姐妹多年前因病已归主怀其他人都好

Sunday was a big test. Not only was our worship relocated, I was invited to kick off a group's introduction to our book同作門徒. Unfortunately I came home 6pm, and so I bought can sardines from a smaller store for dinner because I was too tired to shop.

September 6

Monday, August 29, 2016

Week 14

Day one of week fourteen means saying goodbye to my brother as the 華福 conference starts today. David is happy to be in Taiwan, but his living habits are hard to bear, especially his long showers. However I was glad for him to be around for a change.

On Tuesday a song at the conference Doris loved 耶和華祝福满满 brought tears to my eyes as we sang it. I could remember the last time she was playing the song on her electric piano at home. At night two coworkers and I visited Shilin night market.

The next day I was asked by my retired predecessor what my plans were for the future. I reiterated I have no plans to leave Hong Kong because of my beloved Doris. I will continue with Putonghua and my predecessor's past work. Seems like the question is on people's minds more than mine.

Alum big brother paid me a visit at the conference and took me to lunch. While eating He shared that he still had tears thinking of her mother a year after she passed away and revealed that a seminary professor cried nonstop during their lunch half a year after his spouse's death. He encouraged me with the kindest words for the book同作門徒 Doris and I wrote together. Unfortunately I lost track of time and missed my coworker's speech. I couldn't kept back the tears with Paul Lai or Mike Shen, whom I bumped into during dinner time. They are my admired spiritual elders長輩, and I was glad to meet many in Taiwan, Including Gordon Siu, Felix Liu and Philemon Choi. Coworkers called me 集郵王 for my many selfies.

On Thursday the second last day of the conference I participated in a theological group to discuss how discipleship is relevant in seminary. I remarked seminaries have church growth and spiritual formation courses, but discipleship is an optional course at best. One answer drew a sharp response from me. A seminary lecturer says flippantly, No problem we can add more spiritual formation and spiritual direction, mentor and mentee groups, meet more often. I said all these is the shell, technique, skill chemistry and dynamics, but where is the meat, what is the content and where is Bible study? It seems we are substituting spirituality and therapy for discipleship, there was no reference to God's word.

Friday was the last day of the conference. The song The Longer I Serve Him the Sweeter He Grows caused me to cry hard and loud, so much that my coworker cried with me and Philemon gave me a hug. It was a long day and a long conference but I could finish my grammar Bible by day's end.

On Saturday I was glad to go home. Reaching home I kissed Doris' urn as tears welled up my eyes and I checked the barely opened lilies I bought on my birthday that was kept in the fridge for ten days. Praise God, amazingly it was still good! I rested an hour and dashed to church for night fellowship.

On Sunday morning my emotions got the better of me when I sang two songs, the same later at campus fellowship lunch with a guest and night too when I did my prayer walk. In the afternoon I attended prestudy to check if all was well with leading our new book 同作門徒. The response was good. They like the directness of the questions.

This week will be hard for me, so I covet your prayers.

Aug 29

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Week 13

Week thirteen was a down and up week because of my birthday and my coming  holiday in Taiwan with my brother David and his wife. On Monday I had cold feet handing the application for her internment at Lok Fu because deep in my heart I want her urn at home, which was partly her request.

The next day was my birthday, maybe that was why I could not sleep past 1 am. My emotions in the morning was rising but not raging. Many coworkers asked me why I wore black and I answered there is no joy despite my birthday. At night I had dinner with a USA churchgoer and bought Doris her favorite lilies. 

On Wednesday I had a short work breakfast with a missions group. At least I could recover after crying gently the night before I went to sleep at midnight. I also had to explain to others that the song I had uploaded to them the night before was a young twenty year old Doris singing, so I was not the backup male voice.

On Thursday I took my flight to Taiwan for a vacation with my brother before CCCOWE. Unfortunately the four and half hours turbulent flight from Malaysia and the direct mountain trip after disembarking was too much for my sister in-law, so she threw up and her body trembled, which made me think of Doris' suffering and pain.

On Friday my brother said to me, You look better with long hair. Next time do not cut it. Her wife and our Taiwan host supported me. I have been praying for their salvation.

On Saturday my sister in law still had not stop from vomiting for the third day. We rested at a convenience store for more than an hour, in Nantou but decided to risk the three hour trip to Taipei even when she was still sick. Praise God she survived the travel, sleeping throughout the trip. At night we had a decent Old Szechuan hot spot. 

On Sunday I took my brother and his wife to a famous Baptist Church but the sound system spoiled everything. At night we had dinner with Taiwan members back on holiday at the same time with us and a former Taiwan member from Hong Kong. Later we went to the night market but my gums were acting up again. My brother then gave my headache a good massage and miraculously it went away!

Pray for me as I hope to finish up my book titled Grammar Bible. Pray that my headache from gum inflammation to stay away because I do not want to see a local doctor. Pray I get a good retreat, a blessed fellowship and stirring message.

Aug 23, 2016

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Week 12

Week twelve was stable but for the weekend. On Monday morning I went to the Kowloon HK revival meeting, which was a helpful tonic to me because I try to go to the venue itself instead of the broadcast locations. I also met a lot of old friends who knew of my loss. After that I have lunch and dessert with two separate friends. 

On Tuesday I gave Doris' blog address to a stranger who was crying over the phone at a cafeteria to a friend talking about cancer that hit home, but then she said to me, “Thanks, but it's my dog!”

On Wednesday I helped a coworker brush up on his Putonghua, but it took lots of effort to learn how to pronounce Q, Z, X words. I find I have more patience, compassion and understanding than before, trying to learn from my wife.

On Thursday a coworker asked if I could speak to their fellowship next month to kick off their study of our book Fellow Disciples同作門徒. Pray that the book will catch fire. It was after all Doris last book, but I do have stock of her writings.

On Friday God answered my prayer for a Saturday night sermon in October in a wondrous way. I had no heart in me to preach on Jesus’ temptation from Matt 4 that I had started. I had too much going to bother about kingdom, power and glory issues. After searching for the subject of the greatest prayers in the Bible, the related passage of Psalms 91 popped up, so I reverted instead to Luke 4 where protection of God is the climax unlike Matt 4. My struggle with Doris death can be addressed!

On Saturday I had a dream of Doris where she was anxious about taking medication and we talked about returning to University. It was just a few scenes. I also had a good time with Putonghua fellowship on the first chapter of Fellow Disciples

On Sunday I was ok but the last song changed everything. I cried louder than previous month. Like my godly wife I persevered to attend church monthly prayer meeting. At night I celebrated my birthday with the same group from last year, eating at the same restaurant, buying the same mango cake and wearing the same shirt. Linkage with past comforts grieving folks.

Pray for my trip to Taiwan on Thursday. I need to hear from God, feel His presence and have spiritual intake. Also I need a break and to connect with my brother and his wife who are joining me. Best of all, if we can attend church together.

Aug 16