Sunday, September 28, 2014

Visiting Ships and Chillin with Bishops

Hello all!  At the moment I am sitting in the Mariners Club Bar sipping on water (I have a football match at 9:30 tonight) doing some paperwork, reading my fellow YASCers blogs and reflecting on what a whirlwind of a week I have had.  Last week the House of Bishops met in Taipei Taiwan and some of the Bishops and their spouses came to visit Hong Kong.  They were hosted by the Anglican Church in Hong Kong and stayed at the Mariners Club.  It was amazing being able to spend so much time with leaders of the Episcopal Church.  Tuesday I got back from visiting ships and immediately after the Bishops arrived.  I was able to have lunch with them and generally get to know them.  Thursday we had dinner on a junk boat in the harbor and Friday we visited Macau to learn about the work of the work that the diocese is doing there.  Personally whenever I hear the word Bishop my mind immediately goes off into church fairy land (whatever that is).  I realized at the end of this week though the Bishops are normal people just like you and I.  They like to have fun and even had similar experiences that I have had up to this point in my life.  They are so knowledgeable about he church past present and visions for the future that conversation was never dull.  God was seriously looking out for me with this opportunity and I hope to cross paths with all of these wonderful people again. 

I would also like to share a story from ship visiting on Thursday.  Unfortunately I did not visit this ship, but the story is very powerful none the less.  The Catholic priest, Father Valan, whom I normally visit with was on a ship of all Pakistanis.  As soon as he got on board the Captain immediately greeted him and invited him to the Bridge.  Then the captain apologized for everything going on in the Middle East “in the name of Islam.”  He told father Valan that this ISIS and the other extremists are not true followers of the beautiful religion that is Islam.  This man, a sailor who is not involved in the Middle Eastern conflict at all, took time to show what Islam truly is…Peace.  This apology was such a simple gesture and yet I feel that Jesus would have done the same thing.  This captain humbled himself so that others might know what it is to follow God.  Is this not what we as Christians should be doing also?
Made some friends on a ship!

Chillin with the seven Bishops that visited 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Aung's Story

Jóusàhn!  (Good Morning in Cantonese)  I hope all of you are doing well.  It is hard to believe that I have been here for two and a half weeks already.  Honestly, I feel like it has been much longer.  Assimilating to big city life has been a pretty easy transition and it definitely helps that the people over here are so friendly.  Last week I started work with the mission to seafarers.  I have been mostly visiting ships in the anchorage and I must say being out on the water all day is just amazing.  I have already met some awesome seafarers from all over the world.  They are very friendly people and as long as they aren't too busy are down to have a good conversation.
One seafarer’s story really stuck out to me and when I asked him if I could share it on my blog he was all for it.  This man’s name is Aung Than.  Aung hails from Burma and throughout the time I was talking to him was smiling and laughing and just making me feel as welcome as possible on the ship.  He has been working as a seafarer since the early 90s.  On this particular day he was telling me about his family and how he found Jesus.  Aung said that back when he first joined as a sailor he was constantly drinking and smoking and just generally living a life that he was unhappy with.  He and his wife would fight when he was home and it was also taking a toll on his children.  He seemed to be living in a personal Hell.  Around 2004 however he was baptized into the Baptist church.  He told me that the same night as his baptism he got down on his knees and prayed to Jesus.  Aung prayed “Jesus, I am tired of this life please help me stop.”  The next day he stopped drinking, stopped smoking and started making positive changes to his life.  Aung now reads the Bible every day.  He no longer fights with his wife and has a very healthy relationship with his children.  He is so full of joy and the spirit and it is totally AWESOME!

Now there was definitely some self-perseverance here.  Aung wanted to make a positive change to his life.  I believe however that Aung is a perfect example of what happens when we just let God in and let the spirit truly take control.  Listening to what God wants us to do may not be the easiest way to live but it sure will make us happier.  Letting God take control is truly the way to live joyous and fulfilled lives.  I’m not saying you have to cut out everything like Aung did.  That was his personal choice, but seriously take a moment to consider what is important and how you can let God in so that you can develop into the person he truly wants you to be.
Until next time, Peace Justin

PS I included some pictures of my adventures around the city so far J

Here is a ship in the anchorage (about 250 yards away)

A dragon lantern from the Mid Autumn Festival

the incense dragon

A pond from a Taoist temple I visited 

From the garden of a Buddhist nunnery I visited

selfies for days