So Long Our Friends

“Would you make a friend today if you will be separated one day?  Is it worth it?”  We say, “Yes, totally worth it!”  Our friends hosted a farewell party for us at a restaurant a few days before we left China.  They took turns to share their interactions with us for the past two years.  Some shared with tears of gratitude; some in sadness about our departure.  We were overwhelmed and touched by their sharing.

We didn’t know that they noticed the small details of our day-to-day life: how we are available to help when they have a need; how we show hospitality; how J took care of the kids and interacted with the elderly; how M treated patients with gentleness and care…  We were glad that our daily living was a testimony to them and gave Him the glory.

We were sad to say farewell to our friends.  We miss the time we had together, to sing praises and study, to eat and play, to share and pray…  J especially miss the nursing home team – an older sister who dedicated herself to serve the elderly physically and spiritually everyday in different nursing homes, a mature younger sister who brought youthful and cheerful energy, love and transformation to every visit.  They were the encouragement that kept me going to share His love with the elderly.  I hope that there will be more volunteers to join the team and bring encouragement to the staff.  Together they can bring light to the nursing homes and to the heart of every elderly.

We are thankful for our friends who have been in our lives for the past two years.  We treasure all the memories we shared.  Even though we are apart, we are friends forever!  May our lives spur one another on as we deny ourselves and take up our cross daily and follow Him.

So long, our friends!  We hope one day we will meet again!

Good Bye, Grandma Wang

J wanted to say good bye to Grandma Wang on his last visit to the nursing home.  Grandma Wang was the most cheerful believer in the run-down nursing home.  She loved to sing praises, and everyday she listened to the mp3 player that J gave her last year, which had many praise songs and messages and the Word.  Her cheerful presence made a difference in the depressing nursing home.

When J knocked on Grandma Wang’s door, he felt sad to have to tell her that he will be visiting for the last time.  Nobody answered the door; maybe she was asleep.  Then one caretaker came by and informed us that Grandma Wang returned to her heavenly home a couple weeks ago.  Grandma Wang, at 80 years of age, had gone to sleep one night and never woke up.  She passed away peacefully, no pain, and in a sweet dream with her Savior.

We were sad that we couldn’t say our last good bye to her.  J missed her very much –  her singing and her joyful spirit and the time together.  Our days in this world are numbered, and we don’t know how much time we have left with our loved ones.  We must treasure the time together and be ready when our Father takes us home.  It comforted J to know that Grandma Wang is in a better place where she is forever with her heavenly Father.

Fellowship with the elderly
Fellowship with the elderly

Grandma Wang’s passing was felt by the other elderly.  Grandpa Zhang, who recently moved in to the nursing home, said that he really misses her.  He recently became a new believer because of Grandma Wang, who reached out and shared the good news with him.

Grandpa Zhang was also very appreciative of our visits to his nursing home.  Our visit made his day.  Although he couldn’t read because of his bad eyesight, he treasured the Bible very much.  J read him a passage on the Good Shepherd and explained it to him.  Even though Grandpa Zhang had a stroke, his mind was sharp, and his heart was soft.  The fruit he bears from the seed of the Gospel brought much joy to J.

One volunteer cutting Grandpa Zhang's toe nails
One volunteer cutting Grandpa Zhang’s toe nails

Grandpa Zhang said that in their free time, he and Grandma Wang liked to get together and listen to the mp3 player.  However, Grandma Wang’s daughter took the mp3 player after Grandma Wang passed away.  J could see that he was thirsting to listen to the Word.  It happened that J brought an extra mp3 player that day.  He gave it as a gift to Grandpa Zhang and hopes that Grandpa will share it with other elderly like what Grandma Wang did for him.

It was sad that J couldn’t say good bye to Grandma Wang in person, but he could wave his hands toward heaven and say good bye.  He knew that she was waving back with a smile.

 

 

 

 

Our New Online Bookstore

J really enjoys reading books on rainy days while K is taking a nap. Reading causes him to think, reflect and pray.  It’s good for his soul. Reading a good book is like making a good friend.

J's new "friends"
J’s new “friends”

J found that many good Christian books have been translated into Chinese.  He hopes that these books can find more Chinese friends in America and be a blessing to them.

Some of these books on Amazon are very expensive.  So he decided to open his own online bookstore to make them available at a lower price.  All the books are in simplified Chinese, and they will be available in August this year.  If you or your friends would like to pre-order,  please visit http://www.chinesemanna.com/

On the site you can pre-order as many as you’d like, and we will have these books brought back from China and personally delivered to you!  If you find some books that you like but don’t wish to order at this time, please click the star button next to the book, so that we can get an idea of the popularity of the books and supply accordingly.  We will continue to add more books to the site as he finds more, so bookmark the site and come back for updates.

10% of the proceeds of all book sales will go to support LIGHT’s charitable work.  Even if the books don’t get sold, J will be happy to read the books himself or give them away as gifts =)

If you have any feedback about the bookstore, please let J know.

 

 

 

Letter from auntie Y

J has occasionally brought S and K with me to the nursing home visits, so that they can be exposed to the poor and the needy, develop compassion for others and bring joy to the elderly.

K holding a cookie brings joy to grandpa
K holding a cookie brings joy to a grandpa
S draws her art to grandma
S draws stick-figures for a grandma

S really enjoys visiting the nursing homes with Daddy.  She would rather skip kindergarten!  Maybe she really likes the attention she gets from the grandpas and grandmas, or the goodies they lavish upon her =)

Nevertheless, S’s presence has brought much encouragement to the team.  Auntie Y is our faithful LIGHT staff who leads the nursing home visits.  She wrote a touching letter to S and gave some books about learning Chinese to S as a gift of appreciation.

Dear S,

We love you!

Dear darling, we are very grateful to get to know you here.  Thank you for bringing your beautiful singing, shy words, sweet smiles and warm hugs to the elderly. I thank God that when you are this little, you come into the elderly’s lives and give them love and care.  I really appreciate your courage.

Thank you dear darling. Thank you for joining our work. Thank you for giving me encouragement.  I hope that you will remember this wonderful experience.

We love you!

Auntie Y

2015.5.27

letter from Auntie Y
letter from Auntie Y

Life in the womb

As M’s tummy is getting bigger and bigger these days, bigger than a watermelon, the sign of new life is becoming more obvious.  It brings us unspeakable joy and excitement when we feel the kicking inside M’s tummy.  M did a 4D ultrasound last week. The baby inside is active, and the face looks like J – a big forehead, a big nose – how cute!  You guessed it – it’s a boy!

bb3The expected due date is early Sept, so we will go back to the States in July and prepare for the delivery.  New life is a tremendous blessing, and with it comes tremendous responsibilities.  We started to look for health insurance, housing, job for J and things for resettlement.  Many uncertainties ahead, but we trust that He will provide all that we need as He has already proven Himself faithful in our lives.

Someone said that a baby is like an angel when asleep but a monster when awake.  A baby is the most selfish person on earth, demanding his needs to be met right now; otherwise, he will cry louder.  Babies are not born innocent.

Besides being “little monsters,” babies are costly to raise and take away free time from parents.  Then why are we having a third one?  It’s because of love.  Love is sacrificial, love is giving and caring, love is limiting oneself for others.  Love brings joy; Love gives life.

And life is simply amazing and beautiful!

 

 

 

 

Our Longest Trip

We had just came back from our longest travel since moving to China in 2013. After spending 1.5 weeks at a medical conference in Thailand, we flew to J’s hometown in Guangdong Province and stayed for 5 days, followed by another 3-day visit to Hainan off the coast of the South China Sea. It was not easy to travel with two young kids (especially if you run out of diapers on the plane ride!), but the whole trip overall was refreshing, memorable and meaningful.

The medical conference was held in a mountain side resort in Thailand. Fresh air! An escape from the cold and pollution of Shenyang. It was an intense conference for M because she had all day courses everyday like she was in medical school again. However, it was like a retreat for J – slow and relaxing. The kids went to English-speaking daycare for the first time:) It was encouraging to meet many like-minded people at the conference who are “crazy” for Him, doing good work all over the world. Both of us love Thai food, so we took advantage of our chance to get authentic Thai cuisine! We even got to ride on an elephant!

S and K helping their new Thai friend to pick up leaves
S and K helping their new Thai friend to pick up leaves

After the conference, we went to J’s hometown in Guangdong, Southern China. It was meaningful to bring the whole family back to J’s village, his roots. M was shocked at how simple J used to live. A few old furnitures remained at the house and a couple of photos, nothing more. The village felt pretty empty since most young people had left for the city. J’s elementary school was converted into a factory, and many outsiders rented houses in the village to work in factories nearby. Although the village had changed a lot, it brought back many fond memories of J’s childhood. J didn’t have much toys to play with growing up, but he had a lot of fun playing with many kids in the village. This was a unique, simple and happy village-style childhood which city kids cannot experience these days.

J's home
J’s simple home

We went to J’s middle school in the city with his high school friends. Friendship in high school seemed so pure, not tainted by society. J’s high school friends had changed a lot. They also found that J had changed a lot. They could not understand why we came back to China to do charitable work when we could make a good living in the States. Many of them are chasing their “China dream” – to get wealthy. One friend commented, “You’ve changed a lot; you used to be a ‘quick-thinker.’ You wouldn’t be able to survive in this society now and do the line of work I do.” J got to share his testimony with him briefly, the joy and peace J found in Him.

S at J's middle school
S at J’s middle school

We also met many relatives in J’s hometown. J gave them the good news radio as gifts. Hope one day they will get to know Him personally and get a taste of living water that satisfies their souls.

The last stop was Hainan. We visited a hospital and family medicine residency program and were really encouraged by the work of fellow brothers and sisters there. Our friends also took us to the beach. It was the kids first time ever playing at the beach. We really enjoyed seeing the sea, which M missed very much.

Playing at the beach
Having fun at the beach

It was wonderful to catch up with old friends, to make new friends and to see His work on these trips. After 3 weeks of travel, we are back in Shenyang. Home sweet home!

Joy of coding

In the snowy winter of -20 degrees C (-4 degrees F) outside, people hibernate and get warm inside.  It’s a perfect time for J to do his programming.  He can work wherever there is internet.  Besides having fun with his two daughters and going to some charitable activities, he recently has been working hard to develop and maintain an electronic medical record (EMR) for the clinic M works at.

After the kids go to bed, J starts programming and immerses himself in a sea of codes.  It reminds him of the college days when he would stay up late finishing projects, then sleep through the morning.  He is thankful for M who wakes up early to take care of the kids.

J really enjoys working and learning at the same time.  M can’t understand how J can enjoy coding when she sees a screen of codes on a black background without any graphics, but she appreciates the EMR she has been using.  It’s simple and easy to use, and whatever features she requests, J makes it happen.  Truly the EMR is designed for her and makes her happy at work:)

J finds his work satisfying because it’s not like working a mundane job doing the bare minimum, but giving it all for a greater purpose.  J does not get paid for his work.  He just wants to help the doctors and the clinic with his programming skills while he is here.  It would be great if the EMR takes off to become a start-up business. Even if it does not, J is happy when the doctors use the EMR to provide excellent patient care in His name.  “It’s more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35  And work becomes enjoyable when you know you are working for Him for a greater purpose.

Art of Work
Art of Work
Work of Art
Work of Art

Happy New Year!

J joined the the Christmas/New Year’s eve celebration in a nursing home.  It was festive in the nursing home when some grandpas and grandmas took turns to sing and dance as they showed off their talents.  Our team sent them gifts, sang Christmas carols, and shared with them the reason for the season.  When J made the altar call, many (about 30) elderly raised their hands, even some young caregivers raised their hands!  J was overwhelmed by the work of the Spirit.  His love moved and touched many people’s heart as they heard the good news.  J blessed the elderly and the nursing home, and the owner of the nursing home really appreciated our love and our long term volunteer service to the elderly.  This celebration ended the year 2014 with a bang!

It’s already 2015.  We have a new start, a new plan and a new hope in the new year.  “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.  You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”  (Jer 29:11-13)  We hope to have a closer relationship with Him this year as we walk with Him.

Sorry, we haven’t posted much in the blog lately since J has been busy voluntarily developing an electronic medical record (EMR) for the clinics.  After a couple weeks of intensive coding, the first version of the EMR has finally deployed, and the doctors of the clinic seem to like it:)  J will continue to maintain and improve it.  J hopes that the EMR will be useful for some non-profit clinics that we know, and even better if it grows into a revenue-generating product, so that we can use it as a source of our “tent-making.”

M has been busy studying the book of Ezra, so she can provide a guideline for the group to study together.  It stretches her as she digs deep into the Word.  Besides clinical work, she also meets up with individual nurses, residents to study the Word and discuss important topics that they are facing, such as marriage and relationships.

S speaks more and more Mandarin, and K is still (resisting) being potty trained.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!
Happy New Year!

Verses

J, a computer programmer in trait, developed a web application called “Verses” in his spare time as he keeps learning new technology and framework.  Verses helps you organize and memorize your favorite ESV Bible verses.

After listening to a message or reading a devotion, J likes to pick a favorite verse to meditate and memorize. The app helps J to keep track of his favorite verses, which he can go back and review before he goes to sleep each night.

Hope you find this app useful and helpful. Please let J know if you have any feedbacks.

P.S. The app is hosted in a free backend server, so it’s slow to load initially. (You may need to refresh the browser to reload.)

Happy Wife, Happy Life

It was M’s b-day a couple days ago, and J had planned to skip his weekly nursing home visit and spend some fun time with her.  However, M told J he didn’t need to skip the nursing home visit for her.  In her mind, the poor elderly needed more attention and care than she did.

After the nursing home visit, J took the whole family to a Cantonese dimsum restaurant, a high-end restaurant that a friend recommended.  Both of us had been craving authentic dimsum for a whole year now, but had not found any here, and J was hoping this one would make M happy.  The whole family came out of the restaurant very happy =)  It was comparable to a good dimsum restaurant in SF.  On top of that, J got a “tuangou” online, like a groupon, that gave more than half of the discount for the meal =)  And the kids got to see live lobster swim in a tank!

Yummy Dimsum is hard to find in Northeast China
Yummy Dimsum is hard to find in Northeast China. Happy B-day to my beautiful wife!

J also surprised M with a new electric toothbrush as a b-day gift.  Both of us were happy to have cleaner teeth, and clean teeth makes us smile =)  Moreover, J got the toothbrush at less than 10% of the original price on 11/11, “double eleven” a special sale day in China, which is equivalent to a Black Friday or Cyber Monday in the States.

J didn’t want to end the night without a real surprise.  It’s hard to think of a surprise, but sometimes the most common thing can turn out to be a big surprise.  J ordered a green-tea birthday cake (M’s favorite) ahead of time and managed to hide it somewhere in the house.  While M was giving S a bath, J lit the candles and turned off the lights.  We all crowded into the bathroom to sing happy b-day to M, and S blew out the candles from her tub!

M told J that it was one of the most memorable birthday she’s ever had, and she even told her friend about this.  M is happy, and J is happy.  How true the say: “happy wife, happy life!”

J listened to a message by Rick Warren on Fighting for an Awesome Marriage.  He said one of the main purposes of marriage is the reflection of Christ’s love for the church.  The church is the bride and Christ is the groom.  What love and sacrifice Christ has demonstrated for us on calvary!  May our marriage be centered in the love of Christ as we serve and love one another, that His name would be glorified in this fallen world.