Hi, welcome and thanks for popping by. I’ve been compiling a post over the past few days, about experiences, faith and change, and have so enjoyed the process. I hope you can manage a paragraph at a time, if reading is a struggle at the moment.
Back in time…
Not very long before I was dragged into the vortex of ME/cfs, I was living a full and fairly demanding life on one of the islands that make up Hong Kong.
The illness was beginning to rear it’s head…I didn’t realise.
Life in HK was so transient for expats. You made friends quickly, and friends moved on to pastures anew at a similar rate. The local folk went about their equally busy and demanding lives, and probably thought ‘why do these people make such a fuss all the time….and attempt Cantonese’. Some of the language faux pas I heard of were actually pretty funny, and a bit scary.
I met some amazing people. Many local & expats with incredible skills and careers. You could be wandering through the village only to hear an HK Symphony musician busily rehearsing…so beautiful.
And there were the many expat women, from all corners of the globe, who were incredibly supportive to me and my little family. I would have many, many times been at a complete loss without them. They were and are extraordinary.
But many lives were different. Many worked in the background as helpers. Shoring us all up and helping us settle in and cope with day to day life in the often searing heat. Earning a living to support family, just like everyone else. More wonderful women with huge hearts. Many of whom had children of their own, who were living back in their home country cared for by extended family.
Some helpers became sort of extended family. We laughed, cried, prayed, hugged and often saw each other at our most raw. Stepping over the invisible boundary that society there had set.
I recall on one occasion questioning the decision of a fellow expat in not allowing their helper to travel home to see family following an incident. We didn’t agree and it cost our friendship. I was very sad, and disillusioned by that outcome. Perhaps I had over stepped the mark, giving an opinion. But I had felt led to offer up my voice on that occasion.
I’ll be honest, when I say I frequently felt like a square peg…or was it that I was being challenged? I also could have done more, rather than just focus my energies on trying to fit in. I was cautious of stepping into more challenges. And there were quite a few that were very apparent.
Opportunity to grow…
You may well have heard of Jackie Pullinger, the amazing missionary. She and her faith team came to preach at the church I worshipped at in Discovery Bay, Lantau, not long after we had arrived in HK. We were privileged to have her visit our congregation. Our mission church used to meet in the main hall of the Chinese school. No AC or heating…it used to either get very hot, or in the early months of the year rather chilly.
On the day Jackie Pullinger gave her message, we were amid a spring storm, with wind and rain forcing itself through the upper windows. Parts of the parquet floor was puddled. Apart from being cold, we were all blessed that day. The weather paled into insignificance.
During their ministering to us in the service, I was asked if I’d like to be prayed for…I hadn’t long been baptised, so perhaps I really looked like a newbie in need. I wasn’t really used to being approached in that way, so asked them to pray for my family to receive the touch of the Holy Spirit. Which I was happy to ask for and meant it, but for myself I was cautious of being overwhelmed among a large congregation. I definitely stopped to think for too long, instead of saying ‘YES’!! But despite my hesitation something changed on that day, I’m sure of that.
I think this scripture sums up those wonderful missionaries.
How beautiful on the mountains
are the feet of those who bring good news,
I’ve never met so many passionate Christians in one place, meaning Hong Kong …from anticipating on arrival, a struggle to even meet one!
I recall the informal lunch we all shared after that particular morning of worship. It felt a bit weird. What a far cry it must have been from the challenges the mission team saw people face and help get through on a daily basis. However, saying that, we very likely were the ones in need of a Spirit filled touch on that particular day.
How many of us have struggles? We all do. We also struggle with opinion, as I mentioned earlier. Others or our own. I know that I do struggle at times with the perception that others have of this condition …ME/cfs, or my perception of theirs. It leaves me choked and lost for words at times.
I then lean into the grace of God, and am so thankful for Him, his strength. I continue to learn to live with today, what today has. Not to fear opinion, however muddled or misguided it may be. And to stop making comparisons. To treasure what I have, what I can give and how I can grow in a new way.
A new challenge…
A few months ago, to my utter amazement, I set up a long distance prayer group, for some of the women I used to study & worship with in HK. It’s not always easy to do, in a cognitive capacity sort of way, but it’s good and an opportunity to grow. We used to meet every week for several years…(well for me it was 5 years). Along with sharing everyday life, as the community was small and quite close-knit. That’s a long time and a lot of life shared. And these are many of the supportive women I mentioned earlier. So it’s such a blessing to be in contact in this way again.
To me it’s a piece of the jigsaw being put in place. I’m able to reconnect with many folk, through social media, I’d lost contact with because of the void created by illness, and the struggle to communicate. Each person is precious, and I’m always so delighted to be in contact again and to be in contact with new folk. They probably don’t realise how much it means to me.
A closing thought…
When our time came to leave Hong Kong, it was like having part of me ripped out…I was in pieces. I still remember nearly throwing up at the island check in, after saying very emotional farewells. I hadn’t fully realised how much life there had meant to me, how it had become a part of me, what awesome friends I’d made…and how my faith life had grown immeasurably.
It’s how it can feel when your health changes. So easy to get cosy and take it for granted when it’s all going well…but we can look beyond it, we have to…when the going gets tough.
So yes …change happens, and it undoubtedly challenges. It happened to me in many unexpected and complex ways. That ultimately is life. But I rebuild …ever so slowly, I rebuild. And my relationship with God is stronger than ever.
I have just realised, whilst doing the final tweaks, that I have written about my word for the year… ‘change’! God is good, all the time!
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
God Bless, and thanks so much for reading. I know it’s a pretty lengthy post, but I just had so much to pour out. I hope you enjoy the worship songs. ❤
And to all the ladies I mentioned…I send you my love. Xxx
Penny ~ Hope found in M.E.