the world traveler returns

Thanks for your concerns and prayers for us. I wanted to share an answer to prayer: the lost suitcase has returned! Sitting here now, it feels silly to dedicate a post to luggage. Even still, I know that we ought to be grateful for everything. We are quite relieved that we don’t have to go through the ordeal of filing a claim for lost goods.

We picked up the suitcase yesterday with all its contents included. I was worried that we might recover the suitcase but not all our belongings. Early Monday morning, e got a call from a Bolivian baggage agent asking if he was alright and if he was missing luggage. Bolivia! For some reason, it was tagged to be rushed to Lima, Peru. That suitcase managed to sneak out on a three day getaway to South America without us. The nerve!

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Back Safely… sans Luggage

I (E) have arrived back home in Boston from our missions trip to the Philippines. Praise the Lord, it was a wonderful trip. We offered leadership training seminars, preached at a camp for Muslim tribal youth, and visited pioneering church plants deep in Muslim Mindanao tribal areas. In all this, God provided ample protection and security and safety.

Thanks for your prayers and support. If you would still like to support me, you can do so these ways:

1. Prayer – We have a verbal arrangement about possibly returning next year. If so, we would expand our training from 1.5 days to perhaps 5 days. Pray for discernment about this opportunity.
2. Finances – You can still give financially to support our missions trip. As a pastoral staff member of our church, my expenses are covered. But we can still raise some support to help offset costs. If you’re interested in this, please email me.
3. Lost Luggage – So, my luggage never made it back to Boston. It’s been almost 48 hours since we arrived, and no one seems to know where my luggage went. I’d appreciate prayer for it’s return.

There’s much to process and share about from this trip. I hope for my church family, that much of this experience will positively permeate my preaching and leadership in the coming days and months. For now, I’m glad to be home.

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a mission trip to the Philippines

Hello again friends. I thought it would be more helpful to read about e’s trip to the Philippines in his words. Here is an excerpt of his email prayer letter.

Who are you going with?
I am traveling with Pastor Thomas Lee and Steve Liu, both from my church, Boston Chinese Evangelical Church.

Where are you going?
We are going to spend about 16 days in various parts of the Philippines. Our main locations will be in regions known as Cebu and Dumaguete.

What will you be doing?
Many of you know that for the past 3 summers, I’ve traveled for missions to Sweden to provide leadership training for local Christian leaders. I would not have imagined that such experience would lead to opportunities to do the same in the Philippines.

We will spend 2 days providing training to local leaders on Christian leadership and running Christian camp programs. Then we will spend 5 days as preachers in their summer camp of about 100 local youths. Many of these youths come from Muslim backgrounds as well. Many also come from difficult backgrounds of poverty and struggle. Some were former child soldiers, and others were abandoned at young ages.

How can we support you, Enoch?
I’m glad you asked. I’m writing to not only share this with you, but to ask for your support. I’d appreciate your covering us in prayer. How can you pray for us? With this helpful acronym: S.T.O.P.

1. Prayer for Safety – between air travel, visiting unfamiliar locales, and consuming local food and water, there are many concerns for safety. My body is used to a life of relative comfort in the states, so I would appreciate prayer for health and heartiness.

2. Prayer for Teachable spirit – Our missionary partners invited us to come train. But I know that we have much to learn and need to approach with humility and teachable hearts. Pray that God help us select topics and materials that would encourage and equip our brothers and sisters there.

3. Prayer for the Ongoing work in the Philippines – our missionary partners, Sharon Tan Pastre and her husband Pastor Manny, work and live in this environment. While our missions team plans to come and then return to the US, these dear brothers and sisters have committed to long term ministry. Pray that the Lord challenge us in the states to pray for and support this work.

4. Prayer for Power in the Spirit- Pray that the Holy Spirit moves through us to make a spiritual and physical impact on the people there.

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oh, I should mention…

We’ve had a busy few weeks around here. Currently e is in the Philippines. I guess we should have mentioned it earlier and asked for your prayers. Actually, he didn’t have time to send a “proper” prayer letter until the day he left. He’s going with two others from our church to partner with a missionary there. She works with the poorest of the poor. He and the two others, Steve and P. Tom, are training staff for a youth camp, speaking/helping at the camp itself and visiting different sites to see the work that they are doing and to lend whatever training or encouragement can be offered.

That is admittedly a very short description of the mission trip but things are a little busy around here. Prayer for the team’s safety, physical stamina and eyes open to God’s work would be greatly appreciated.

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strangers on a bus

Last week I started my new job. In a set of circumstances only God could orchestrate, I am now gainfully employed. I got to choose my work hours so that I can be home when the kids get back from school. I also planned my hours so I can still attend my women’s bible study. I work for a very understanding and gentle supervisor. I occasionally get free lunch when lectures and meetings are held at the office. My cubicle is situated next to a window. The most amusing part of it all–at least to me–is that I’m returning to urban planning 15 years after grad school. After starting my career as stay-at-home mom, I pretty much gave up the idea of being involved in the field of urban planning. But here I am getting back to it.

There is one part of my new routine that has been enlightening and enriching while causing stress at times: riding the bus. The price of parking near the office is ridiculous and work does not provide me a spot in the tiny lot. So I’m letting go of my LA car-loving roots and taking public transportation. This is only the second week that I’ve been commuting to work but I have learned a lot. I’ve missed my bus and taken the wrong bus (fortunately not on the same day). I’m learning that riding public transportation requires that I trust an unknown factor (the bus driver) to get me to my destination. Once I did that, the ride became rather enjoyable–sort of like “me time” while being surrounded by strangers.

I also observe notable people on the bus: a grandfather picking up his granddaughters from school, the woman who is married to the bus driver, the man who would periodically sing at stops “if you leave that’s fine by me,” a man who spit on the floor of the bus, another man who was rather loudly trying to strike up a conversation with a woman who turned out to be married with a baby (the woman then moved seats). Of course there are the usual commuters on their way to work and/or school but that’s not fun to write about. It’s not nearly as dramatic as the events of “Strangers on a Train” but it’s certainly enough excitement for me.

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processing, processing

What a week we’ve been through. Our family watched many hours of tv covering the bombings, manhunt and eventual arrest. There is a small amount of relief in the apprehension of a suspect. Lots of questions remain about the event. Perhaps in time, we will get answers.

E and I have been pondering how people have responded to the events. E pointed out that there are two types of sound bites you’ll hear about a person accused of a crime: (1) expressions of disbelief, “I had no idea he/she was capable of that. He/she was so nice.” (2) chagrin at missing the signs, “We should have seen that coming. He/she was a troubled person.” Do we really know people as well as we think? Are we making assumptions? We also have mixed feelings about cheering on the capture of a criminal. Of course we are glad that some measure of justice will be served but are we self-righteous in our condemnation? Even one of the kids asked me if a terrorist can ever be good. I don’t doubt God’s goodness but I wonder how God’s justice can work with our human sense of justice. All of us, we are processing, processing, processing. May we do it prayerfully and guided by God’s truth.

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pensive but ok

Hello friends,

You probably already heard about the explosions at the end of the Boston Marathon this afternoon. We are ok. E and I have been pensive about this event. It is not just because it happened “in our town” but the jarring effect that these situations have. Tragedies and violence stir up many emotions: grief, anger, fear, insecurity. Personally, the darkness of sin seems too prominent. We do not yet know if anyone in our community has been affected. Please pray for all that are involved and for us as we try to shine God’s light in dark places. We are grateful for you.

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the slow ascent

Hello. I am laughing to myself about the tone of peace and calm from the last post. I certainly don’t feel that today!

We are in conference/retreat/travel season around here. From now until the end of March at least one member of the family will have attended two conferences, two retreats, one out of state wedding and one week long family visit. April will allow us to catch our breath so that we can prepare for May when e will be going on a 2+ week missions trip to the Philippines. I feel like we are making the slow ascent on Splash Mountain in preparation for the gut-wrenching fall through the briar patch. Sorry, that’s probably over-dramatic. I should just say we are starting a couple months that will fly by in a blur. We’d love your prayers for our family.

Did I also share here that I will be simultaneously be on a job hunt? Oh yes indeed. Late in the fall, I felt God confirming my calling to be with my family at home while directing me to look for a job. I’m glad that God knows all because I was completely befuddled. I have since given up trying to understand but realize that it’s not impossible–and certainly not impossible with God. Instead I’ve been putting that effort toward obedience: I’ve applied for jobs. The shocking part is that someone out there just might want to hire me. (Ironically, I keep typing “fire” when I mean to type “hire.”) It’s been over a decade since my last job search. This time around as mother seeking employment, it’s far more complicated. Working moms, I have a new appreciation for what you do.

It does feel a bit like the ground is disappearing beneath us and that the fall is sharp and long. Thankfully, God is there reminding us He is always present and ever in control.

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clothed in scarlet

It is a rare occasion that I feel (note: “feel” not “am”) like the Proverbs 31 woman. After sending the kids out in 30 degree weather, this verse came to me.

She is not afraid of snow for her household,
for all her household are clothed in scarlet.
Proverbs 31:21

I don’t know the significance of scarlet–perhaps it was extra warm? My kids were clothed in various shades of blue. I was feeling a sense of assurance as they walked to the bus stop wearing their down coats, gloves and new lined jeans. (End of season sales, people.) I’m not trying to boast or make others feel guilty. I would be in deep trouble if I put my hope in my ability to care for my family. In fact, I would fail often. Clothes are, after all, just material belongings of which moths destroy, zippers jam and knees wear out. More than anything, I am grateful for how God provides generously for us in ways I can’t anticipate. The Proverbs 31 woman was not afraid of winter but ultimately her confidence was grounded in her Lord. Slowly, I am learning to do the same.

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getting our bearings

If I had my act together, I would have wished you all a merry Christmas a few weeks ago–or even covered up the delay with a “Happy New Year!” Oh well, life isn’t punctual and picture perfect. At least mine isn’t. Maybe you are awesome enough to have a timely and perfectly styled life. Instead can I say “hello” and thanks for stopping by? (Special greetings to Rikke who admits to being a faithful reader!)

In the rush of the holidays, we escaped New England for a So. Cal Christmas. We had a few firsts this trip. The kids tried bitter melon (my idea) and voluntarily ate fish eyes (not my idea). We rode the “big” rides at Disneyland together. We took one of the kids to a Chinese herbal doctor. (The jury is still out on this one, so far so good.) We also did some of our usual activities. We spent time with different iterations of family, visited old long-time friends, ate at our favorite places and walked the beach.

The trip was fun but we are glad to be home. It sounds ungrateful (I don’t mean to be, the trip was great) but vacations are tiring and we really could use some rest. I enjoy sleeping in my own bed. Unfortunately, jet lag keeps slapping us in the face. It’s been a little over 24 hours and we are trying to get our bearings. The 60 degree drop from CA was a little tough. When our plane touched down it was 7 degrees outside. Brrr. Our house was so cold inside of the fridge felt warm. But it’s ok. This is home and we’re ready to get back to what God has for us here–if only I could keep my eyes open.

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